Skip to main content

Full text of "Jane Eyre"

See other formats


LIBRARY 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

SANTA BARBARA 



PRESENTED BY 

MRS. MACKINLEY HELM 



THE 

WORKS OF 

CHARLOTTE 

EMILY AND ANNE 

BRONTE 

IN TWELVE VOLUMES 

VOL. 11. 



JANE EYRE 

VOL. II. 

CURRER BELL 

(CHARLOTTE BRONTE) 




ayCo-n-ey . 




LONDON : Publiftied by J. M. Dent and Company 

at Aldine House in Great Eaftern Street, E.C. 

MDCCCXCVI 



^M\ 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 

It is but a Pillar set up where four 

ROADS MEET • . . . FroTitispiece 

Come, we will sit here in peace 

to-night ..... page 1 9 

I SAW A Blackened Ruin . . ,,251 




JANE EYRE. 



Cl)aptcr xi:ij. 

MR ROCHESTER had given me but one 
week's leave of absence : yet a month elapsed 
before I quitted Gateshead. I wished to leave 
immediately after the funeral ; but Georgiana entreated 
me to stay till she could get off to London : whither 
she was now at last invited by her uncle, Mr Gibson ; 
who had come down to direct his sister's interment, and 
settle the family affairs. Georgiana said she dreaded 
being left alone with Eliza ; from her she got neither 
sympathy in her dejection, support in her fears, nor aid 
in her preparations ; so I bore with her feeble-minded 
quailings, and selfish lamentations, as well as I could, 
and did my best in sewing for her and packing her 
dresses. It is true, that while I worked, she would 
idle ; and I thought to myself, " If you and I were 
destined to live always together, cousin, we would 
commence matters on a different footing. I should not 
settle tamely down into being the forbearing party ; I 
should assign you your share of labour, and compel you 
to accomplish it, or else it should be left undone : I 
should insist, also, on your keeping some of those drawl- 
ing, half-insincere complaints hushed in your own breast. 
It is only because our connection happens to be very 
transitory, and comes at a peculiarly mournful season, 



6 JANE EYRE. 

that I consent thus to render it so patient and compliant 
on my part." 

At last I saw Gcorgiana off ; but now it was Eliza's 
turn to request me to stay another week. Her plans 
required all her time and attention, she said : she was 
about to depart for some unknown bourne ; and all day 
long she stayed in her own room, her door bolted with- 
in, filling trunks, emptying drawers, burning papers, and 
holding no communication with any one. She wished 
me to look after the house, to see callers, and answer 
notes of condolence. 

One morning, she told me I was at liberty. " And," 
she added, " I am obliged to you for your valuable 
services and discreet conduct ! There is some differ- 
ence between living with such a one as you, and with 
Georgiana : you perf orm yo ur own part in life, and 
burden no one. To-morrow^'' she continued, " I set 
out for the Continent. I shall take up my abode in a 
religious house, near Lisle — a nunnery you would call 
it : there I shall be quiet and unmolested. I shall 
devote myself for a time to the examination of the 
Roman Catholic dogmas, and to a careful study of the 
workings of their system ; if I find it to be, as I half 
suspect it is, the one best calculated to ensure the doing 
of all things decently and in order, I shall embrace the 
tenets of Rome and probably take the veil." 

I neither expressed surprise at this resolution nor at- 
tempted to dissuade her from it. " The vocation will fit 
you to a hair," I thought : "much good may it do you ! " 

When we parted, she said : " Good-bye, cousin Jane 
Eyre ; I wish you well : you have some sense." 

I then returned : " You are not without sense, cousin 
Eliza ; but what you have, I suppose in another year 
will be walled up alive in a French convent. How- 
ever, it is not my business, and so it suits you — I don't 
much care." 



JANE EYRE. 7 

" You are in the right," said she : and with these 
words we each went our separate way. As I shall not 
have occasion to refer either to her or her sister again, 
I may as well mention here, that Georgiana made an 
advantageous match with a wealthy worn-out man of 
fashion ; and that Eliza actually took the veil, and is 
at this day superior of the convent where she passed the 
period of her novitiate : and which she endowed with 
her fortune. 

How people feel when they are returning home from 
an absence, long or short, I did not know : I had 
never experienced the sensation. I had known what it 
was to come back to Gateshead when a child, after a long 
walk — to be scolded for looking cold or gloomy ; and 
later, what it was to come back from church to Lowood 
— to long for a plenteous meal and a good fire, and to be 
unable to get either. Neither of these returnings were 
very pleasant or desirable : no magnet drew me to a given 
point, increasing in its strength of attraction the nearer I 
came. The return to Thornfield was yet to be tried. 

My journey seemed tedious — very tedious : fifty miles 
one day, a night spent at an inn ; fifty miles the next 
day. During the first twelve hours I thought of Mrs 
Reed in her last moments : I saw her disfigured and 
discoloured face, and heard her strangely altered voice. 
I mused on the funeral day, the coffin, the hearse, the 
black train of tenants and servants—few was the number 
of relatives — the gaping vault, the silent church, the 
solemn service. Then I thought of Eliza and Georgi- 
ana : I beheld one the cynosure of a ball-room, the 
other the inmate of a convent cell ; and I dwelt on and 
analysed their separate peculiarities of person and char- 
acter. The evening arrival at the great town of 

scattered these thoughts ; night gave them quite another 
turn : laid down on my traveller's bed, I left reminiscence 
for anticipation. 



8 JANE EYRE. 

I was going back to Thornfield : but how long was 
I to stay there ? Not long ; of that I was sure. I 
had heard from Mrs Fairfax in the interim of my 
absence : the party at the hall was dispersed ; Mr 
Rochester had left for London three weeks ago, but 
he was then expected to return in a fortnight. Mrs 
Fairfax surmised that he was gone to make arrange- 
ments for his wedding, as he had talked of purchasing 
a new carriage : she said the idea of his marrying Miss 
Ingram still seemed strange to her ; but from what 
everybody said, and from what she had herself seen, 
she could no longer doubt that the event would shortly 
take place. " You would be strangely incredulous if 
you did doubt it," was my mental comment. " I 
don't doubt it." 

The question followed, " Where was I to go ? " I 
dreamt of Miss Ingram all the night : in a vivid morn- 
ing dream I saw her closing the gates of Thornfield 
against me and pointing me out another road ; and Mr 
Rochester looked on with his arms folded — smiling 
sardonically, as it seemed, at both her and me. 

I had not notified to Mrs Fairfax the exact day of 
my return ; for I did not wish either car or carriage to 
meet me at Millcote. I proposed to walk the distance 
quietly by myself; and very quietly, after leaving my 
box in the ostler's care, did I slip away from the George 
Inn, about six o'clock of a June evening, and take the 
old road to Thornfield : a road which lay chiefly through 
fields, and was now little frequented. 

It was not a bright or splendid summer evening, 
though fair and soft : the haymakers were at work all 
along the road ; and the sky, though far from cloudless, 
was such as promised well for the future : its blue — 
where blue was visible — was mild and settled, and its 
cloud strata high and thin. The west, too, was warm : 
no watery gleam chilled it — it seemed as if there was a 



JANE EYRE. 9 

fire lit, an altar burning behind its screen of marbled 
vapour, and out of apertures shone a golden redness. 

I felt glad as the road shortened before me : so glad 
that I stopped once to ask myself w hat that j oy meant ; 
and to remind reason that it was not to my ho me, 2_was 
gqingj. or to a permanent restuTg-place, or to a place 
where fond friends looked out for me and waited my 
arrival. " Mrs Fairfax will smile you a calm welcome, 
to be sure," said I ; " and little Adele will clap her 
hands and jump to see you : but you know very well 
you are thinking of another than they ; and that he is 
not thinking of you." 

But what is so headstrong as youth ? What so blind 
as inexperience ? These affirmed that it was pleasure 
enough to have the privilege of again looking on Mr 
Rochester, whether he looked on me or not ; and they 
added — " Hasten ! hasten 1 be with him while you 
may : but a few more days or weeks, at most, and you 
are parted with him for ever ! " And then I strangled 
a new-bom agony — a deformed thing which I could 
not persuade myself to own and rear — and ran on. 

They are making hay, too, in Thornfield meadows ; 
or rather, the labourers are just quitting their work, and 
returning home with their rakes on their shoulders : 
now, at the hour I arrive. I have but a iield or two to 
traverse, and then I shall cross the load and reach the 
gates. How full the hedges are of roses ! But I have 
no time to gather any ; I want to be at the house. I 
passed a tall briar, shooting leafy and flowery branches 
across the path ; I see the narrow stile with stone steps ; 
and I see — Mr Rochester sitting there, a book and a 
pencil in his hand : he is writing. 

Well, he is not a ghost ; yet every nerve I have is 
unstrung : for a moment I am beyond my own mastery. 
What does it mean ? I did not think I should tremble 
in this way when I saw him — or lose my voice or the 



lO JANE EYRE. 

power of motion in his presence. I will go back as 
soon as I can stir : I need not make an absolute fool of 
myself. I know another way to the house. It does 
not signify if I knew twenty ways ; for he has seen me. 
" Hillo ! " he cries ; and he puts up his book and his 
pencil. " There you are ! Come on, if you please." 

I suppose I do come on ; though in what fashion I 
know not : being scarcely cognisant of my movements, 
and solicitous only to appear calm ; and, above all, to 
control the v/orking muscles of my face — which I feel 
rebel insolently against my will, and struggle to express 
what I had resolved to conceal. But I have a veil — it 
is down : I may make shift yet to behave with decent 
composure. 

" And this is Jane Eyre ? Are you coming from 
Millcote, and on foot ? Yes — ^just one of your tricks : 
not to send for a carriage, and come clattering over 
street and road like a common mortal, but to steal into 
the vicinage of your home along with twilight, just as if 
you were a dream or a shade. What the deuce have 
you done with yourself this last month ? " 

" I have been with my aunt, sir, who is dead." 
" A true Janian reply ! Good angels be my guard ! 
She comes from the other world — from the abode of 
people who are dead ; and tells me so when she meets 
me alone here in tlie gloaming ! If I dared I'd touch 
you to see if you are substance or shadow, you elf! — 
but I'd as soon offer to take hold of a blue ignis fatuus 
light in a marsh. Truant ! truant ! " he added, when 
he had paused an instant. " Absent from me a whole 
month : and forgetting me quite, I'll be sworn ! " 

I knew there would be pleasure in meeting my master 
again ; even though broken by the fear that he was so 
soon to cease to be my master, and by the knowledge 
that I was nothing to him : but there was ever in Mr 
Rochester (so at least I thought) such a wealth of the 



JANE EYRE. II 

power of communicating happiness, that to taste but of 
the crumbs he scattered to stray and stranger birds like 
me, was to feast genially. His last words were balm : 
they seemed to imply that it imported something to him 
whether I forgot him or not. And he had spoken of 
Thomfield as my home — would that it were my home ! 
He did not leave the stile, and I hardly liked to ask 
to go by. I inquired soon if he had not been to London. 
" Yes : I suppose you found that out by second- 
sight ? " 

" Mrs Fairfax told me in a letter." 
" And did she inform you what I went to do ? " 
" Oh, yes, sir ! Everybody knew your errand." 
" You. must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you 
don't think it will suit Mrs Rochester exactly ; and 
whether she won't look like Queen Boadicea, leaning 
back against these purple cushions. I wish, Jane, I were 
a trifle better adapted to match with her externally. Tell 
me, now, fairy as you are, — can't you give me a charm, 
or a philter, or something of that sort, to make me a 
handsome man ? " 

" It would be past the power of magic, sir ; " and, 
in thought, I added, " a loving eye is all the charm 
needed : to such you are handsome enough ; or rather, 
your sternness has a power beyond beauty." 

Mr Rochester had sometimes read my unspoken 
thoughts with an acumen to me incomprehensible : in 
the present instance he took no notice of my abrupt 
vocal response ; but he smiled at me with a certain 
smile he had of his own, and which he used but on rare 
occasions. He seemed to think it too good for common 
pui^poses : it was the real sunshine of feeling — he shed 
it over me now. 

" Pass, Janet," said he, making room for me to cross 
the stile : " go up home, and stay your weary little 
wandering feet at a friend's threshold." 



4- 



12 JANE EYRE. 

All I had now to do was to obey him in silence : no 
need for me to colloquise further. I got over the stile 
without a word, and meant to leave him calmly. An 
impulse held me fast, — a force turned me lound. I 
said — or something in me said for me, and in spite of 
me : — 

" Thank you, Mr Rochester, for your great kind- 
ness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you ; 
and wherever you are is my home — my only home." 

I walked on so fast that even he could hardly have 
overtaken me had he tried. Little Adele was half 
wild with delight when she saw me. Mrs Fairfax re- 
ceived me with her usual plain friendliness. Leah 
smiled ; and even Sophie bid me " bon soir " with 
glee. This was very pleasant : there is no happiness, 
like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and, 
feeling that your presence is an addition to their com^ 
fort. 

~1, that evening, shut my eyes resolutely against the 
future : I sto])ped my ears against the voice that kept 
warning me of near separation and coming grief. When 
tea was over and Mrs Fairfax had taken her knitting, 
and I had assumed a low seat near her, and Adele, 
kneeling on the carpet, had nestled close up to me, and 
a sense of mutual affection seemed to surround us with 
a ring of golden peace, I uttered a silent prayer that we 
might not be parted far or soon ; but when, as we thus 
sat, Mr Rochester entered, unannounced, and looking 
at us, seemed to take pleasure in the spectacle of a group 
so amicable — when he said he supposed the old lady was 
all right now that she had got her adopted daughter back 
again, and added that he saw Adele was "prete a 
croquer sa petite maman Anglaise " — I half ventured to 
hope that he would, even after his marriage, keep us to- 
gether somewhere under the shelter of his protection, 
and not quite exiled from the sunshine of his presence. 



JANE EYRE. I3 

A fortnight of dubious calm succeeded my return to 
Thornfield Hall. Nothing was said of the master's 
marriage, and I saw no preparation going on for such 
an event. Almost every day I asked Mrs Fairfax if 
she had yet heard anytliing decided : her answer was 
always in the negative. Once, she said, she had actually 
put the question to Mr Rochester as to when he was 
going to bring his bride home ; but he had answered her 
only by a joke, and one of his queer looks, and she 
could not tell what to make of him. 

One thing specially surprised me, and that was, there 
were no journeyings backward and forward, no visits to 
Ingram Park : to be sure it was twenty miles off, on the 
borders of another county ; but what was that distance 
to an ardent lover ? To so practised and indefatigable 
a horseman as Mr Rochester, it would be but a morn- 
ing's ride. I began to cherish hopes I had no right to 
conceive: that the match was broken off; that rumour 
had been mistaken ; thatoneor both parties had changed 
their minds. I used to look at my master's face to see 
if it were sad or lierce ; but I could not remember the 
time when it had been so uniformly clear of clouds or 
evil feelings. If, in the moments I and my pupil spent 
with him, I lacked spirits and sank into inevitable de- 
jection, he became even gay. Never had he called me 
more frequently to his presence ; never been kinder to 
me when there — and, alas ! never had I loved him so 
well. 



Chapter ppiij* 



A SPLENDID Midsummer shone over England's 
skies so pure, suns so radiant as were then seen 
in long succession, seldom favour, even singly, 
our wave-girt land. It was as if a band of Italian days 



14 JANE EYRE. 

had come from the South, like a flock of glorious pas- 
senger birds, and lighted to rest them on the cliffs of 
Albion. The hay was all got in ; the fields round 
Thornfield were green and sliorn ; the roads white and 
baked ; the trees were in their dark prime ; hedge and 
wood, full-leaved and deeply tinted, contrasted well with 
the sunny hue of the clear meadows between. 

On Midsummer-eve, Adele, weary with gathering 
wild strawberries in Hay Lane half the day, had gone 
to bed with the sun. 1 watched her drop asleep, and 
when I left her I sought the garden. 

It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four : — 
" Day its fervid fires had wasted," and dew fell cool 
on panting plain and scorched summit. Where the sun 
had gone down in simple state — pure of the pomp of 
clouds — spread a solemn purple, burning with the light 
of red jewel and furnace flame at one point, on one hill- 
peak, and extending high and wide, soft and still softer, 
over half heaven. The east had its own charm of fine, 
deep blue, and its own modest gem, a rising and_soHtary 
st3j:j- soon it would boast the moon ; but 'slie" was yet 
beneath the horizon. 

I walked a while on the pavement ; but a subtle, 
well-known scent — that of a cigar — stole from some 
window ; I saw the library casement open a hand- 
breadth ; I knew I might be watched thence ; so I 
went apart into the orchard. No nook in the grounds 
more sheltered and more Eden-like ; it was full of trees, 
it bloomed with flowers : a very high wall shut it out 
from the court, on one side ; on the other, a beech 
avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom was 
a sunk fence ; its sole separation from lonely fields : a 
winding walk, bordered with laurels and terminating in 
a giant horse-chesnut, circled at the base by a seat, led 
down to the fence. Here one could wander unseen. 
While such honey-dew fell, such silence reigned, such 



JANE EYRE. 1 5 

gloaming gathered, I felt as if I could haunt such 
shade for ever : but in threading the flower and fruit- 
parterres at the upper part of the inclosure, enticed there 
by the light the now-rising moon casts on this more 
open quarter, my step is stayed — not by sound, not by 
sight, but once more by a warning fragrance. 

Sweet briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and 
rose, have long been yielding their evening sacrifice of 
incense : this new scent is neither of shrub nor flower ; 
it is — I know it well — it is Mr Rochester's cigar. I 
look round and I listen. I see trees laden with ripen- 
ing fruit. I hear a nightingale warbling in a wood half 
a mile off; no moving form is visible, no coming step 
audible ; but that perfume increases : I must flee. I 
make for the wicket leading to the shrubbeiy, and I see 
Mr Rochester entering. I step aside into the ivy 
recess ; he will not stay long : he will soon return 
whence he came, and if I sit still he will never see rae. 

But no — eventide is as pleasant to him as to me, and 
this antique garden as attractive ; and he strolls on, 
now lifting the gooseberry-tree branches to look at the 
fruit, large as plums, with which they are laden ; now 
taking a ripe cherry from the wall ; now stooping 
towards a knot of flowers, either to inhale their fragrance 
or to admire the dew-beads on their petals. A great 
moth goes humming by me ; it alights on a plant at Mr 
Rochester's foot : he sees it, and bends to examine it. 

" Now, he has his back towards me," thought I, 
" and he is occupied too ; perhaps, if I walk softly, I 
can slip away unnoticed." 

I trode on an edging of turf that the crackle of the 
pebbly gravel might not betray me : he was standing 
among the beds at a yard or two distant from where I 
had to pass ; the moth apparently engaged him. " I 
shall get by very well," I meditated. As I crossed 
his shadow, thrown long over the garden by the 



1 6 JANF. EYRE. 

moon, not yet risen high, he said quietly without 
turning : — 

"Jane, come and look, at this fellow." 

I had made no noise : he had not eyes behind — could 
his shadow feel ? I started at first, and then I ap- 
proached him. 

" Look at his wings," said he, " he reminds me 
rather of a West Indian insect ; one does not often see 
so large and gay a night-rover in England ; there ! he 
is flown." 

The moth roamed away. I was sheepishly retreat- 
ing also ; but Mr Rochester followed me, and when 
we reached the wicket, he said : — 

" Turn back : on so lovely a night it is a shame to 
sit in the house ; and surely no one can wish to go to 
bed while sunset is thus at meeting with moonrise." 

It is one of my faults, that though my tongue is 
sometimes prompt enough at an answer, there are times 
when it sadly fails me in framing an excuse ; and always 
the lapse occurs at some crisis, when a facile word or 
plausible pretext is specially wanted to get me out of 
painful embarrassment. I did not like to walk at this 
hour alone with Mr Rochester in the shadowy orchard ; 
but 1 could not find a reason to allege for leaving him. 
I followed with lagging step, and thoughts busily bent 
on discovering a means of extrication ; but he himself 
looked so composed and so grave also, I became ashamed 
of feeling any confusion : the evil — ifjeiii existent or 
prospective there was — seemed to lie with me only ; his 
mind was unconscious and quiet. 

"Jane," he recommenced, as we entered the laurel 
walk, and slowly strayed down in the direction of the 
sunk fence and the horse-chesnut, " Thornfield is a 
pleasant place in summer, is it not ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" You must have become in some degree attached to 



JANE EYRE. 1 7 

the house, — you, who have an eye for natural beauties, 
and a good deal of the organ of Adhesiveness ? " 

" I am attached to it, indeed." 

" And though I don't comprehend how it is, I per- 
ceive you have acquired a degree of regard for that 
foolish little child Adele, too ; and even for simple 
dame Fairfax ? " 

" Yes, sir ; in different ways, 1 have an affection for 
both." 

" And would be sorry to part with them ? " 

« Yes." 

" Pity ! " he said, and sighed and paused. " It is 
always the way of events in this life," he continued 
presently : " no sooner have you got settled in a pleasant 
resting-place, than a voice calls out to you to rise and 
move on, for the hour of repose is expired." 

" Must I move on, sir ? " I asked. " Must I leave 
Thornfield?" 

" I believe you must, Jane. I am sorry, Janet, but 
I believe indeed you must." 

This was a blow : but I did not let it prostrate me. 

" Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order to march 
comes." 

" It is come now — T must give it to-night." 

" Then you are going to be married, sir ? " 

" Ex-act-ly — pre-cise-ly : with your usual acute- 
ness, you have hit the nail straight on the head." 

" Soon, sir ? " 

" Very soon, my that is. Miss Eyre : and you'll 

remember, Jane, the first time I, or Rumour, plainly 
intimated to you that it was my intention to put my old 
bachelor's neck into the sacred noose, to enter into the 
holy estate of matrimony — to take Miss Ingram to my 
bosom, in short (she's an extensive armful : but that's 
not to the point — one can't have too much of such a 
very excellent thing as my beautiful Blanche) : well, 

II. B 



I 8 JANE EYRE. 

as I was saying — listen to me, Jane ! You're not 
turning your head to look after more moths, are you? 
That was only a lady-clock, child, ' flying away home.' 
I wish to remind you that it was you who first said to 
me, with that discretion I respect in you — with that 
foresight, prudence, and humility which befit your 
responsible and dependent position — that in case I 
married Miss Ingram — both you and little Adele had 
better trot forthwith. I pass over the sort of slur 
conveyed in this suggestion on the character of my 
beloved ; indeed, when you are far away, Janet, I'll 
try to forget it : I shall notice only its wisdom ; which 
is such that I have made it my law of action. Adele 
must go to school ; and you, Miss Eyre, must get a 
new situation." 

" Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately : and mean- 
time, I suppose " I was going to say, " I suppose 

I may stay here, till I find another shelter to betake 
myself to : " but I stopped, feeling it would not do to 
risk a long sentence, for my voice was not quite under 
command. 

" In about a month I hope to be a bridegroom," 
continued Mr Rochester ; " and in the interim I shall 
myself look out for employment and an asylum for 
you." 

" Thank you, sir ; I am sorry to give " 

" Oh, no need to apologise ! I consider that when 
a dependent does her duty as well as you have done 
yours, she has a sort of claim upon her employer for 
any little assistance he can conveniently render her ; 
indeed I have already, through my future mother-in- 
law, heard of a place that I think will suit : it is to 
undertake the education of the five daughters of Mrs 
Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, 
Ireland. You'll like Ireland, I think : they're such 
warm-hearted people there, they say." 




l'/>/^//', f/'f //■/// -if/ /<vvv f // ///y/f/ /f> //y^/A. 



JANE EYRE. I9 

" It is a long way off, sir." 

" No matter — a girl of your sense will not object to 
the voyage or the distance." 

" Not the voyage, but the distance : and then the 
sea is a barrier " 

" From what, Jane ? " 

" From England and from Thornfield : and " 

" Well ? " 

" From youy sir." 

I said this almost involuntarily ; and, with as little 
sanction of free will, my tears gushed out. I did not 
cry so as to be heard, however ; 1 avoided sobbing. 
The thought of Mrs O'Gall and Bitternutt Lodge 
struck cold to my heart ; and colder the thought of all 
the brine and foam, destined, as it seemed, to rush 
between me and the master at whose side I now walked ; 
and coldest the remembrance of the wider ocean — 
wealth, caste, custom intervened between me and what 
I naturally and inevitably loved. 

" It is a long way," I again said. 

" It is to be sure ; and when you get to Bitternutt 
Lodge, Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you 
again, Jane : that's morally certain. I never go over 
to Ireland, not having myself much of a fancy for the 
country. We have been good friends, Jane ; have we 
not?" 

" Yes, sir." 

" And when friends are on the eve of separation, 
they like to spend the little time that remains to them 
close to each other. Come — we'll talk over the voyage 
and the parting quiedy, half an hour or so, while the 
stars enter into their shining life up in heaven yonder : 
here is the chesnut tree : here is the bench at its old 
roots. Come, we will sit there in peace to-night, 
though we should never more be destined to sit there 
together." He seated me and himself 



20 JANE EYRE. 

" It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry 
to send my little friend on such weary travels : but if I 
can't do better, how is it to be helped ? Are you any- 
thing akin to me, do you think, Jane ? " 

I could risk no sort of answer by this time : my 
heart was full. 

" Because," he said, " I sometimes have a queer feel- 
ing with regard to you — especially when you are near 
me, as now : it is as if I had a string somewhere under 
my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar 
string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little 
frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hun- 
dred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am 
afraid that cord of communion will be snapt ; and then 
I've a nei"vous notion I should take to bleeding in- 
wardly. As for you, — you'd forget me." 

"That I nfUfr should, sir : you know" impos- 
sible to proceed. 

" Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the 
wood ? Listen ! " 

In listening, I sobbed convulsively ; for I could re- 
press what I endured no longer ; I was obliged to yield, 
and I was shaken from head to foot with acute distress. 
When I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous 
wish that I had never been born, or never come to 
Thornfield. 

" Because you are sorry to leave it ?" 

The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love 
within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full 
sway ; and asserting a right to predominate : to over- 
come, to live, rise, and reign at last ; yes, — and to 
speak. 

" I grieve to leave Thornfield : I love Thornfield : 
— I love it, because I have lived in it a full and de- 
lightful life, — momentarily at least. I have not been 
trampled on. I have not been petrified. I have not 



JANE EYRE. 21 

been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from 
every glimpse of communion with what is bnght and 
energetic, and high. I have talked, face to face, with 
what I reverence ; with what I delight in, — with an 
original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have known 
you, Mr Rochester ; and it strikes me with terror and 
anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for 
ever. I see the necessity of departure ; and it is like 
looking on the necessity of death." 

" Where do you see the necessity ? " he asked, sud- 
denly. 

" Where ? You, sir, have placed it before me." 

" In what shape ? " 

" In the shape of Miss Ingram ; a noble and beauti- 
ful woman, — your bride." 

" My bride ! What bride ? I have no bride ! " 

" But you will have." 

" Yes : — I will ! — I will ! " He set his teeth. 

" Then I must go : — you have said it yourself." 

" No : you must stay ! I swear it — and the oath 
shall be kept." 

" I tell you I must go ! " I retorted, roused to some- 
thing like passion. " Do you think I can stay to 
become nothing to you ? Do you think I am an auto- 
maton ? — a machine without feelings ? and can bear to 
have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and 
my drop of living water dashed from my cup ? Do 
you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, 
I am soulless and heartless ? You think wrong ! — I 
have as much soul as you, — and full as much heart ! 
And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and 
much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to 
leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not 
talking to you now through the medium of custom, 
conventionalities, or even of mortal flesh : — it is my 
spirit that addresses your spirit ; just as if both had 



22 JANE EYRE. 

passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, 
equal, — as we are ! " 

" As we are ! " repeated Mr Rochester — " so," he 
added, enclosing me in his arms, gathering me to his 
breast, pressing his lips on my lips : " so, Jane ! " 

" Yes, so, sir," I rejoined : " and yet not so ; for 
you are a married man — or as good as a married man, 
and wed to one inferior to you — to one with whom you 
have no sympathy — whom I do not believe you truly 
love ; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I 
would scorn such a union : therefore I am better than 
you — let me go! " 

" Where, Jane ? To Ireland ? " 

" Yes — to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and 
can go anywhere now." 

" Jane, be still ; don't struggle so, like a wild, frantic 
bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation." 

" I am no bird ; and no net ensnares me ; I am a 
free human being with an independent will ; which I 
now exert to leave you." 

Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect 
before him. 

"And your will shall decide your destiny," he said: 
" I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my 
possessions." 

*' You play a farce, which I merely laugh at." 

" I ask you to pass through life at my side — to be 
my second self and best earthly companion." 

" For that fate you have already made your choice, 
and must abide by it." 

" Jane, be still a few moments : you are over-excited : 
I will be still too." 

A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk, 
and trembled through the boughs of the chesnut : it 
wandered away — away — to an indefinite distance — it 
died. The nightingale's song was then the only voice 



JANE EYRE. 2$ 

of the hour : in listening to it, I again wept. Mr Ro- 
chester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. 
Some time passed before he spoke : he at last said : — 

" Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and 
understand one another." 

" I will never again come to your side : I am torn 
away now, and cannot return." 

" But, Jane, I summon you as my wife : it is you 
only I intend to marry." 

I was silent : I thought he mocked me. 

" Come, Jane — come hither." 

" Your bride stands between us." 

He rose, and with a stride reached me. 

" My bride is here," he said, again drawing me to 
him, " because my equal is here, and my likeness. 
Jane, will you marry me ? " 

Still I did not answer, and still I writhed myself 
from his grasp : for I was still incredulous. 

" Do you doubt me, Jane ? " 

" Entirely." 

" You have no faith in me ? " 

" Not a whit." 

"Am I a liar in your eyes ? " he asked passionately. 
" Little sceptic, you skall be convinced. What love 
have I for Miss Ingram ? None : and that you know. 
What love has she for me ? None : as I have taken 
pains to prove : I caused a rumour to reach her that my 
fortune was not a third of what was supposed, and after 
that I presented myself to see the result ; it was cold- 
ness both from her and her mother. I would not — I 
could not — marry Miss Ingram. You — you strange — 
you almost unearthly thing ! — I love as my own flesh. 
You — poor and obscure, and small and plain as you 
are — I entreat to accept me as a husband." 

" What, me ! " I ejaculated : beginning in his ear- 
nestness — and especially in his incivility — to credit his 



24 JANE EYRE. 

sincerity : " me who have not a friend in the world but 
you — if you are my friend : not a shilling but what you 
have given me ? " 

" You, Jane. I must have you for my own — entirely 
my own. Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly." 

" Mr Rochester, let me look at your face : turn to 
the moonlight." 

" Why ? " 

" Because I want to read your countenance ; turn ! " 

" There ; you will find it scarcely more legible than 
a crumpled, scratched page. Read on : only make 
haste, for I suffer." 

His face was very much agitated and very much 
flushed, and there were strong workings in the features, 
and strange gleams in the eyes. 

" Oh, Jane, you torture me ! " he exclaimed. " With 
that searching and yet faithful and generous look, you 
torture me ! " 

" How can I do that ? Jf you are true, and your 
offer real, my only feelings to you must be gratitude 
and devotion — they cannot torture." 

" Gratitude ! " he ejaculated ; and added wildly — 
" Jane, accept me quickly. Say Edward — give me my 
name — Edward — I will marry you." 

" Are you in earnest ? — Do you truly love me ? — 
Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife ? " 

" I do ; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I 
swear it." 

" Then, sir, I will marry you." 

•' Edward — my little wife ! " 

«= Dear Edward ! " 

" Come to me — come to me entirely now," said he : 
and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as 
his cheek was laid on mine, " Make my happiness- — I 
will make yours." 

" God pardon me ! " he subjoined ere long , " and 



JANE EYRE. 2$ 

man meddle not with me : I have her, and will hold 
her." 

" There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred 
to interfere." 

" No —that is the best of it," he said. And if I 
had loved him less I should have thought his accent 
and look of exultation savage : but sitting by him, 
roused from the nightmare of parting — called to the 
paradise of union — I thought only of the bliss given me 
to drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he 
said, " Are you happy, Jane ? " And again and again 
I answered, " Yes." After which he murmured, " It 
will atone — it will atone. Have I not found her friend- 
less, and cold, and comfortless ? Will I not guard, and 
cherish, and solace her ? Is there not love in my heart, 
and constancy in my resolves ? It will expiate at God's 
tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For 
the world's judgment — I wash my hands thereof. For 
man's opinion — I defy it." 

But what had befallen the night ? The moon was 
not yet set, and we were all in shadow : I could scarcely 
see my master's face, near as I was. And what ailed 
the chesnut tree ? it writhed and groaned ; while wind 
roared in the laurel walk, and came sweeping over 
us. 

" We must go in," said Mr Rochester : " the 
weather changes. I could have sat with thee till 
morning, Jane." 

"And so," thought I, "could I with you." I 
should have said so, perhaps, but a livid, vivid spark 
leapt out of a cloud at which I was looking, and there 
was a crack, a crash, and a close rattling peal ; and I 
t hought only of hiding my dazzled eyes against Mr 
Rochester's' lHouMen ' ^" 

The rain rushed down. He hurried me up the walk, 
through the grounds, and into the house ; but we were 



26 JANE EYRE. 

quite wet before we could pass the threshold. He was 
taking off my shawl in the hall, and shaking the water 
out of my loosened liair, when Mrs Fairfax emerged 
from her room. I did not observe her at first, nor did 
Mr Rochester. The lamp was lit. The clock was 
on the stroke of twelve. 

" Hasten to take off your wet things," said he : 
"and before you go, good-night — good-night, my 
darling ! " 

He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked up, on 
leaving his arms, there stood the widow, pale, grave, and 
amazed. I only smiled at her, and ran upstairs. " Ex- 
planation will do for another time," thought I. Still, 
when I reached my chamber, I felt a pang at the idea 
she should even tempo larily misconstrue what she had 
seen. But joy soon effaced every other feeling ; and 
loud as the wind blew, near and deep as the thunder 
crashed, fierce and frequent as the lightning gleamed, 
cataract-like as the rain fell during a storm of two hours' 
duration, I experienced no fear, and little awe. Mr 
Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, 
to ask if I was safe and tranquil : and that was comfort, 
that was strength for anything. 

Before I left my bed in the morning, little Ad^le 
came running in to tell me that the great horse-chesnut 
at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by light- 
ning in the night, and half of it split away. 



Chapter ppib* 

AS I rose and dressed, I thought over what had 
happened, and wondered if it were a dream. I 
could not be certain of the reality till I had seen 
Mr Rochester again, and heard him renew his words of 
love and promise. 



JANE EYRE. 27 

While arranging my hair, I looked at my face in the 
glass, and felt it was no longer plain : there was hope 
in its aspect, and life in its colour ; and my eyes seemed 
as if they had beheld the fount of fmition, and borrowed 
beams from the lustrous ripple, I had often been un- 
willing to look at my master, because 1 feared he could 
not be pleased at my look ; but I was sure I might lift 
my face to his now, and not cool his affection by its ex- 
pression. I took a plain but clean and light summer 
dress from my drawer and put it on : it seemed no 
attire had ever so well become me ; because none had I 
ever worn in so blissful a mood. 

I was not surprised, when I ran down into the hall, 
to see that a brilliant June morning had succeeded to the 
tempest of the night ; and to feel, through the open 
glass door, the breathing of a fresh and fragrant breeze. 
Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy. A 
beggar-woman and her little boy — pale, ragged objects 
both — were coming up the walk, and I ran down and 
gave them all tlie money I happened to have in my 
purse — some three or four shillings : good or bad, 
they must partake of my jubilee. The rooks cawed, 
and blither birds sang ; but nothing was so merry or 
so musical as my own rejoicing heart. 

Mrs Fairfax surprised me by looking out of the 
windovv' with a sad countenance, and saying gravely : — 
" Miss Eyre, will you come to breakfast ? " During 
the meal she was quiet and cool : but I could not unde- 
ceive her then. I must wait for my master to give 
explanations ; and so must she. T ate what I could, 
and then I hastened upstairs. I met Adele leaving the 
school-room. 

<' Where are you going ? It is time for lessons." 

" Mr Rochester has sent me away to the nursery." 

"Where is he?" 

" In there," pointing to the apartment she had left ; 
and I went in. and there he stood. 



28 JANE EYRE. 

" Come and bid me good-morning," said he. I 
gladly advanced ; and it was not merely a cold word 
now, or even a shake of the hand that I received, but an 
embrace and a kiss. It seemed natural : it seemed 
genial to be so well-loved, so caressed by him. 

" Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty," 
said he : " truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale 
little elf? Is this my mustard-seed ? This little sunny- 
faced girl with the dimpled cheek and rosy lips ; the 
satin-smooth hazel hair, and the radiant hazel eyes ? " 
(I had green eyes, reader ; but you must excuse the 
mistake : for him they were new-dyed, I suppose.) 

" It is Jane Eyre, sir." 

" Soon to be Jane Rochester," he added: "in four 
weeks, Janet ; not a day more. Do you hear that ? " 

I did, and I could not quite comprehend it : it made 
me giddy. The feeling, the announcement sent through 
me, was something stronger than was consistent with 
joy — something that smote and stunned : it was, I think, 
almost fear. 

" You blushed, and now you are white, Jane : what 
is that for ? " 

" Because you gave me a new name — Jane Roches- 
ter ; and it seems so strange." 

" Yes ; Mrs Rochester," said he ; " young Mrs 
Rochester — Fairfax Rochester's girl-bride." 

" It can never be, sir ; it does not sound likely. 
Human beings neve r_enjoy complete happiness in this 
wgjjd. 1 was not'bornror a ditt'erent "destiny to the 
rest of my species ; to imagine such a lot befalling me 
is a fairy tale — a day-dream." 

" Which I can and will realise. I shall begin to- 
day. This morning I wrote to my banker in London 
to send me certain jewels he has in his keeping, — heir- 
looms for the ladies of Thornfield. In a day or two I 
hope to pour them into your lap : for every privilege. 



JANE EYRE. tg 

every attention shall be yours, that I would accord a 
peer's daughter if about to marry her." 

"Oh, sir! — never mind jewels! I don't like to 
hear them spoken of. Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds 
unnatural and strange : I would rather not have them." 

" I will myself put the diamond chain round your 
neck, and the circlet on your forehead, — which it will 
become : for nature, at least, has stamped her patent of 
nobility on this brow, Jane ; and I will clasp the brace- 
lets on these fine wrists, and load these fairy-like fingers 
with rings." 

" No, no, sir ! think of other subjects, and speak of 
other things, and in another strain. Don't address me 
as if I were a beauty ; I am your plain, Quakerish 
governess." 

" You are a beauty, in my eyes ; and a beauty just 
after the desire of my heart, — delicate and aerial." 

" Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are 
dreaming, sir, — or you are sneering. For God's sake, 
don't be ironical ! " 

" I will make the world acknowledge you a beauty, 
too," he went on, while I really became uneasy at the 
strain he had adopted ; because I felt he was either 
deluding himself, or trying to delude me. " I will 
attire my Jane in satin and lace, and she shall have 
roses in her hair ; and I will cover the head I love best 
with a priceless veil." 

" And then you won't know me, sir ; and I shall not 
be your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's 
jacket, — a jay in borrowed plumes. I would as soon 
see you, Mr Rochester, tricked out in stage-trappings, as 
myself clad in a court-lady's robe ; and I don't call you 
handsome, sir, though I love you most dea rly ; far too 
dearly to flatter you. Don't flatter me." 

He pursued his theme, however, without noticing my 
deprecation. " This very day I shall take you in the 



/ 



3© JANE EYRE. 

carriage to Millcote, and you must choose some dresses 
for yourself. I told you we shall be married in four 
weeks. The wedding is to take place quietly, in the 
church down below yonder ; and then I shall waft you 
away at once to town. After a brief stay there, I shall 
bear my treasure to regions nearer the sun : to French 
vineyards and Italian plains ; and she shall see what- 
ever is famous in old story and in modern record : she 
shall taste, too, of the life of cities ; and she shall learn 
to value herself by just comparison with others." 

" Shall I travel ? — and with you, sir ? " 

" You shall sojourn at Paris, Rome, and Naples : at 
Florence, Venice, and Vienna : all the ground I have 
wandered over shall be re-trodden by you : wherever I 
stamped my hoof, your sylph's foot shall step also. Ten 
years since, I flew through Europe half mad ; with 
disgust, hate, and rage, as my companions : now I shall 
revisit it healed and cleansed, with a very angel as my 
comforter." 

I laughed at him as he said this. " I am not an 
angel," I asserted ; " and I will not be one till I die : 
I will be myself, Mr Rochester, you must neither expect 
nor exact anything celestial of me — for you will not get 
it, any more than I shall get it of you : which I do not 
at all anticipate." 

" What do you anticipate of me ? " 

" For a little while you will perhaps be as you are 
now, — a very little while -, and then you will turn cool ; 
and then you will be capricious ; and then you will be 
stern, and I shall have much ado to please you : but 
when you get well used to me, you will perhaps like me 
again, — Hie me, 1 say, not /ove me. I suppose your love 
will effervesce in six months, or less. I have observed 
in books written by men, that period assigned as the 
farthest to which a husband's ardour extends. Yet, 
after all, as a friend and companion, I hope never to 
become quite distasteful to my dear master. 



JANE EYRE. 3 1 

" Distasteful ! and like you again ! I think I shall 
like you again and yet again : and I will make you 
confess I do not only like, but love you — with truth, 
fervour, constancy." 

" Yet are you not capricious, sir i* " 

" To women who .please me only by their faces, I 
am the very devil when I find out they have neither 
souls nor hearts — when they open to me a perspective of 
flatness, triviality, and perhaps imbecility, coarseness, and 
ill-temper : but to the clear eye and eloquent tongue, to 
the soul made of fire, and the character that bends but 
does not bi^eak — at once supple and stable, tractable and 
consistent — I am ever tender and true." 

" Had you ever experience of such a character, sir ? 
Did you ever love such an one ? " 

" I love it now." 

" But before me : if I, indeed, in any resjiect come 
up to your difficult standard ? " 

" I never met your likeness. Jane : you please me, 
and you master me — -you seem to submit, and I like the 
sense of pliancy you impart ; and while 1 am twining 
the soft, silken skein round my finger, it sends a thrill 
up my arm to my heart. I am influenced — conquered ; 
and the influence is sweeter than I can express ; and 
the conquest I undergo has a witchery beyond any 
triumph / can win. Why do you smile, Jane ? What 
does that inexplicable, that uncanny turn of countenance 
mean ? " 

" I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea ; it 
was involuntary), I was thinking of Hercules and Sam- 
son with their charmers " 

" You were, you little elfish " 

" Hush, sir ! You don't talk very wisely just now ; 
any more than those gentlemen acted very wisely. 
However, had they been married, they would no doubt 
by their severity as husbands have made up for their 



32 JANE EYRE. 

softness as suitors ; and so will you, I fear. I wonder 
how you will answer me a year hence, should I ask a 
favour it does not suit your convenience or pleasure to 
grant." 

"Ask me something now, Janet — the least thing: I 
desire to be entreated" 

" Indeed, I will, sir ; I have my petition all ready." 

" Speak ! But if you look up and smile with that 
countenance, I shall swear concession before I know to 
what, and that will make a fool of me." 

" Not at all, sir ; I ask only this : don't send for the 
jewels, and don't crown me with roses : you might as 
well put a border of gold lace round that plain pocket 
handkerchief you have there." 

" I might as well ' gild refined gold.' I know it : 
your request is granted then — for the time. I will 
remand the order I despatched to my banker. But you 
have not yet asked for anything : you have prayed a gift 
to be withdrawn : try again." 

" Well, then, sir, have the goodness to gratify my 
curiosity, which is much piqued on one point." 

He looked disturbed. " What ? what ? " he said 
hastily. " Curiosity is a dangerous petition : it is well 
I have not taken a vow to accord every request " 

" But there can be no danger in complying with this, 
sir." 

" Utter it, Jane : but I wish that instead of a mere 
inquiry into, perhaps, a secret, it was a wish for half my 
estate." 

" Now, king Ahasuerus ! What do I want with 
half your estate ? Do you think I am a Jew-usurer, 
seeking good investment in land ? I would much 
rather have all your confidence. You will not exclude 
me from your confidence, if you admit me to your 
heart ? " 

" You are welcome to all my confidence that is 



JANE EYRE. 33 

worth having, Jane : but for God's sake, don't desire a 
useless burden ! Don't long for poison — don't turn out 
a downright Eve on my, hands ! " 

" Why not, sir ? You have just been telling me how 
much you liked to be conquered, and how pleasant 
over-persuasion is to you. Don't you think I had better 
take advantage of the confession, and begin and coax 
and entreat— even cry and be sulky if necessary — for 
the sake of a mere essay of my power ? " 

" I dare you to any such experiment. Encroach, 
presume, and the game is up." 

" Is it, sir ? You soon give in. How stern you look 
now ! Your eyebrows have become as thick as my 
finger, and your forehead resembles, what, in some very 
astonishing poetry, 1 once saw styled, ' a blue-piled 
thunderloft.' That will be your married look, sir, I 
suppose ? " 

" If that will be your married look, I, as a Christian, 
will soon give up the notion of consorting with a mere 
sprite or salamander. But what had you to ask, thing ? 
— out with it ! " 

" There, you are less than civil now ; and I like 
rudeness a great deal better than flattery. I had rather 
be a thing than an angel. This is what I have to ask, 
— Why did you take such pains to make me believe you 
wished to marry Miss Ingram ? " 

" Is that all ! Thank God, it is no worse ! " And 
now he unknit his black brows ; looked down, smiling 
at me, and stroked my hair, as if well pleased at seeing 
a danger averted. " I think I may confess," he con- 
tinued, " even although I should make you a little in- 
dignant, Jane — and I have seen what a fire-spirit you 
can be when you are indignant. You glowed in the 
cool moonlight last night, when you mutinied against 
fate, and claimed your rank as my equal. Janet, by-the- 
by, it was you who made me the oflFer." 

II. C 



34 JANE EYRE. 

" Of course, I did. But to the point if you please, 
sir- — Miss Ingram ? " 

" Well, I feigned courtship of Miss Ingram, because 
I wished to render you as madly in love with me as I 
was with you ; and I knew jealousy would be the best 
ally I could call in for the furtherance of that end." 

" Excellent ! — Now you are small — not one whit 
bigger than the end of my little finger. It was a burn- 
ing shame, and a scandalous disgrace to act in that way. 
Did you think nothing of Miss Ingram's feelings, sir ! " 

" Her feelings are concentrated in one — pride ; and 
that needs humbling. Were you jealous, Jane ? " 

" Never mind, Mr Rochester : it is in no way inter- 
esting to you to know that. Answer me truly once 
more. Do you think Miss Ingram will not suffer from 
your dishonest coquetry ? Won't she feel forsaken and 
deserted ? " 

" Impossible ! — when I told you how she, on the 
contrary, deserted me : the idea of my insolvency cooled, 
or rather extinguished, her flame in a moment." 

" You have a curious, designing mind, Mr Rochestei, 
I am afraid your principles on some points are eccen- 
tric." 

" My principles were never trained, Jane : they may 
have grown a little awry for want of attention." 

" Once again, seriously ; may I enjoy the great good 
that has been vouchsafed to me, without fearing that 
any one else is suffering the bitter pain I myself felt a 
while ago ? " 

" That you may, my good little girl : there is not 
another being in the world has the same pure love for 
me as yourself — for I lay that pleasant unction to my 
soul, Jane, a belief in your affection.'* 

I turned my lips to the hand that lay on my shoulder. 
I loved him very much — more than I could tmst my- 
self to say — more than words had power to express. 



JANE EYRE. 35 

" Ask something more," he said presently ; " it is my 
delight to be entreated, and to yield." 

I was again ready with my request. " Communicate 
your intentions to Mrs Fairfax, sir : she saw me with 
you last night in the hall, and she was shocked. Give 
her some explanation before I see her again. It pains 
me to be misjudged by so good a woman." 

" Go to your room, and put on your bonnet," he re- 
plied. " I mean you to accompany me to Millcote this 
morning ; and while you prepare for the drive, I will 
enlighten the old lady's understanding. Did she think, 
Janet, you had given the world for love, and con- 
sidered it well lost ? " 

" I believe she thought I had forgotten my station, 
and yours, sir." 

" Station ! station ! — your station is in my heart, and 
on the necks of those who would insult you, now or 
hereafter. — Go." 

I was soon dressed ; and when I heard Mr Rochester 
quit Mrs Fairfax's parlour, I hurried down to it. The 
old lady had been reading her morning portion of Scrip- 
ture — the lesson for the day ; her Bible lay open before 
her, and her spectacles were upon it. Her occupation, 
suspended by Mr Rochester's announcement, seemed now 
forgotten : her eyes, fixed on the blank wall opposite, 
expressed the surprise of a quiet mind, stirred by un- 
wonted tidings. Seeing me, she roused herself: she 
made a sort of effort to smile, and framed a few words 
of congratulation ; but the smile expired, and the sen- 
tence was abandoned unfinished. She put up her spec- 
tacles, shut the Bible, and pushed her chair back from 
the table. 

" I feel so astonished," she began, " I hardly know 
what to say to you, Miss Eyre. I have surely not been 
dreaming, have I ? Sometimes I half fall asleep when 
I am sitting alone, and fancy things that have never 



^6 JANE EYRE. 

happened. It has seemed to me more than once when 
T have been in a doze, that my dear liusband, who died 
fifteen years since, has come in and sat down beside 
me ; and that I have even heard him call me by my 
name, Alice, as he used to do. Now, can you tell me 
whether it is actually true that Mr Rochester has asked 
you to marry him ? Don't laugh at me. But I really 
thought he came in here five minutes ago, and said, that 
in a month you would be his wife." 

" He has said the same thing to me," I replied. 

" He has ! Do you believe him ? Have you 
accepted him ? " 

"Yes." She looked at me bewildered. 

" I could never have thought it. He is a proud 
man : all the Rochesters were proud : and his father, at 
least, liked money. He, too, has always been called 
careful. He means to marry you ? " 

" He tells me so." 

She surveyed my whole person : in her eyes I read 
that they had there found no charm powerful enough to 
solve the enigma. 

" It passes me ! " she continued : " but no doubt it 
is true since you say so. How it will answer, I cannot 
tell : I really don't know. Equality of position and 
fortune is often advisable in such cases ; and there are 
twenty years of difference in your ages. He might 
almost be your father." 

" No, indeed, Mrs Fairfax ! " exclaimed I, nettled : 
" he is nothing like my father ! No one, who saw us 
together, would suppose it for an instant. Mr Rochester 
looks as young, and is as young as some men at five-and- 
twenty." 

" Is it really for love he is going to marry you ? " 
she asked. 

I was so hurt by her coldness and scepticism, that the 
tears rose to my eyes. 



JANE EYRE. 37 

" I am sorry to grieve you," pursued the widow ; 
" but you are so young, and so little acquainted with 
men, I wished to put you on your guard. It is an old 
saying that ' all is not gold that glitters ; ' and in this 
case I do fear there will be something found to be 
different to what either you or I expect." 

"Why! — am I a monster?" I said: "is it im- 
possible that Mr Rochester should have a sincere 
affection for me?" 

" No : you are very well ; and much improved of 
late ; and Mr Rochester, I daresay, is fond of you. I 
have always noticed that you were a sort of pet of 
his. There are times when, for your sake, I have 
been a little uneasy at his marked preference, and have 
wished to put you on your guard : but I did not like 
to suggest even the possibility of wrong. I knew such 
an idea would shock, perhaps offend you ; and you were 
so discreet, and so thoroughly modest and sensible, I 
hoped you might be trusted to protect youi'self. Last 
night I cannot tell you what I suffered when I sought 
all over the house, and could find you nowhere, nor the 
master either ; and then, at twelve o'clock, saw you 
come in with him." 

" Well, never mind that now," I interrupted im- 
patiently : " it is enough that all was right." 

" I hope all will be right in the end," she said : " but, 
believe me, you cannot be too careful. Try and keep 
Mr Rochester at a distance : distrust yourself as well 
as him. Gentlemen in his station are not accustomed 
to marry their governesses." 

I was growmg truly irritated : happily, Adele ran 
in. 

" Let me go, — let me go to Millcote too ! " she 
cried. " Mr Rochester won't ; though there is so much 
room in the new carriage. Beg him to let me go, 
mademoiselle." 



38 JANE EYRE. 

" That I will, Ad^le ; " and I hastened away with 
her, glad to quit my gloomy monitress. The carriage 
was ready ; they were bringing it round to the front, 
and my master was pacing the pavement, Pilot follow- 
ing him backwards and forwards. 

" Adele may accompany us, may she not, sir ?" 

" I told her no. I'll have no brats ! — I'll have only 
you." 

" Do let her go, Mr Rochester, if you please : it 
would be better." 

" Not it : she will be a restraint." 

He was quite peremptory, both in look and voice. 
The chill of Mrs Fairfax's warnings, and the damp 
of her doubts were upon me : something of unsubstan- 
tiality and uncertainty had beset my hopes. I half lost 
the sense of power over him. I was about mechanic- 
ally to obey him, without further remonstrance : but as 
he helped me into the carriage, he looked at my face. 

" What is the matter ? " he asked ; " all the sun- 
shine is gone. Do you really wish the bairn to go ? 
Will it annoy you if she is left behind ? " 

" I would far rather she went, sir." 

" Then off for your bonnet, and back, like a flash of 
lightning ! " cried he to Adele. 

She obeyed him with what speed she might. 

" After all, a single morning's interruption will not 
matter much," said he, " when I mean shortly to claim 
you — your thoughts, conversation, and company — for 
life." 

Adele, when lifted in, commenced kissing me, by 
way of expressing her gratitude for my intercession ; 
she was instantly stowed away into a corner on the 
other side of him. She then peeped round to where I 
sat ; so stern a neighbour was too restrictive : to him, 
in his present fractious mood, she dared whisper no 
observations, nor ask of him any information. 



JANE EYRE. 39 

"Let her come to me," I entreated: "she will, 
perhaps, trouble you, sir : there is plenty of room on 
this side." 

He handed her over as if she had been a lap-dog : 
" I'll send her to school yet," he said, but now he was 
smiling. 

Adele heard him, and asked if she was to go to 
school " sans mademoiselle ? " 

" Yes," he replied, " absolutely sans mademoiselle ; 
"for 1 am to take mademoiselle to the moon, and there 
I shall seek a cave in one of the white valleys among 
the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall live with me 
there and only me." 

" She will have nothing to eat : you will starve her," 
observed Adele. 

" I shall gather manna for her morning and night : 
the plains and hill-sides in the moon are bleached with 
manna, Adele." 

" She will want to warm herself: what will she do 
for a fire ? " 

" Fire rises out of the lunar mountains : when she is 
cold, I'll carry her up to a peak and lay her down on 
the edge of a crater." 

" Oh, qu'elle y sera mal — peu comfortable ! And her 
clothes, they will wear out : how can she get new ones ? " 

Mr Rochester professed to be puzzled. " Hem ! " 
said he. " What would you do, Adele ? Cudgel your 
brains for an expedient. How would a white or a pink 
cloud answer for a gown, do you think ? And one could 
cut a pretty enough scarf out of a rainbow." 

" She is far better as she is," concluded Adele, after 
musing some time : " besides, she would get tired of 
living with only you in the moon. If I were made- 
moiselle, I would never consent to go with you." 

" She has consented : she has pledged her word." 

" But you can't get her there : there is no road to 



40 JANE EYRE. 

the moon : it is all air ; and neither you nor she can 

" Adele, look at that field." We were now outside 
Thornfield gates, and bowling lightly along the smooth 
road to Millcote, where the dust was well laid by the 
thunder-storm, and where the low hedges and lofty 
timber trees on each side glistened green, and rain- 
refreshed. 

" In that field, Ad^le, I was walking late one even- 
ing about a fortnight since — the evening of the day you 
helped me to make hay in the orchard meadows ; and 
as I was tired with raking swaths, I sat down to rest 
me on a stile ; and there I took out a little book and a 
pencil, and began to write about a misfortune that befell 
me long ago, and a wish I had for happy days to come : 
I was writing away very fast, though daylight was 
fading from the leaf, when something came up the 
path and stopped two yards off me. I looked at it. 
It was a little thing with a veil of gossamer on its head. 
I beckoned it to come near me : it stood soon at my 
knee. I never spoke to it, and it never spoke to me in 
words : but I read its eyes, and it read mine ; and our 
speechless colloquy was to this effect : — 

" It was a fairy, and come from Elf-land, it said ; 
and its errand was to make me happy : I must go with 
it out of the common world to a lonely place — such as 
the moon, for instance — and it nodded its head towards 
her horn, rising over Hay-nill : it told me of the ala- 
baster cave and silver vale where we might live. I said 
I should like to go ; but reminded it, as you did me, 
that I had no wings to fly." 

" ' Oh,' returned the fairy, ' that does not signify ! 
Here is a talisman will remove all difficulties ; ' and she 
held out a pretty gold ring. ' Put it,' she said, ' on 
the fourth finger of my left hand, and I am yours, and 
you are mine ; and we shall leave earth, and make our 



JANE EYRE. 41 

own heaven yonder.' She nodded again at the moon. 
The ring, Adele, is in my breeches-pocket, under the 
disguise of a sovereign : but I mean soon to change it 
to a ring again." 

" But what has mademoiselle to do with it ? I don't 
care for the fairy : you said it was mademoiselle you 
would take to the moon ? " 

" Mademoiselle is a fairy," he said, whispering mys- 
teriously. Whereupon I told her not to mind his 
badinage ; and she, on her part, evinced a fund of 
Genuine French scepticism : denominating Mr Roches- 
ter " un vrai menteur, and assuring him that she made 
no account whatever of his " Contes de fee," and that 
" du reste, il n'y avait pas de fees, et quand meme il y 
en avait : " she was sure they would never appear to 
him, nor ever give him rings, or offer to live with him 
in the moon. 

The hour spent at Millcote was a somewhat harass- 
ing one to me. Mr Rochester obliged me to go to a 
certain silk warehouse : there I was ordered to choose 
half a dozen dresses. I hated the business, I begged 
leave to defer it : no — it should be gone through with 
now. By dint of entreaties expressed in energetic 
whispers, I reduced the half-dozen to two : these, how- 
ever, he vowed he would select himself. With anxiety 
I watched his eye rove over the gay stores : he fixed 
on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dye, and a 
superb pink satin. I told him in a new series of whis- 
pers, that he might as well buy me a gold gown and a 
silver bonnet at once : I should certainly never venture 
to wear his choice. With infinite difficulty, for he was 
stubborn as a stone, I persuaded him to make an ex- 
change in favour of a sober black satin and pearl-grey 
silk. " It might pass for the present," he said ; " but 
he would yet see me glittering like a parterre." 

Glad was T to get him out of the silk warehouse, and 



42 JANE EYRE. 

then out of a jeweller's shop : the more he bought me, 
the more my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance 
and degradation. As we re-entered the carriage, and 
I sat back feverish and fagged, I remembered what in 
the huriy of events, dark and bright, I had wholly for- 
gotten — the letter of my uncle, John Eyre, to Mis 
Reed : his intention to adopt me and make me his 
legatee. " It would, indeed, be a relief," I thought, 
" if I had ever so small an independency ; I never can 
bear being dressed like a doll by Mr Rocliester7 or 
sitting like a second Danae with the golden shower 
falling daily round me. I will write to Madeira the 
moment I get home, and tell my uncle John I am going 
to be married, and to whom : if I had but a prospect 
of one day bringing Mr Rochester an accession of for- 
tune, I could better endure to be kept by him now." 
And somewhat relieved by this idea (which I failed 
not to execute that day), I ventured once more to meet 
my master's and lover's eye ; which most pertinaciously 
sought mine, though I averted both face and gaze. He 
smiled ; and I thought his smile was such as a sultan 
might, in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave 
his gold and gems had enriched : I crushed his hand, 
which was ever hunting mine, vigorously, and thrust it 
back to him red with the passionate pressure — 

" You need not look in that way," I said : " if you 
do, I'll wear nothing but my old Lowood frocks to the 
end of the chapter. I'll be married in this lilac gingham 
— you may make a dressing-gown for yourself out of 
the pearl-grey silk, and an infinite series of waistcoats out 
of the black satin." 

He chuckled ; he rubbed his hands : " Oh, it is rich 
to see and hear her ! " he exclaimed. " Is she original ? 
Is she piquant ? I would not exchange this one little 
English girl for the grand Turk's whole seraglio ; 
gazeile-eyes, houri forms and all ! " 



JANE EYRE. 43 

The eastern allusion bit me again : " I'll not stand 
you an inch in the stead of a seraglio," I said ; " so don't 
consider me an equivalent for one ; if you have a fancy 
for anything in that line, away with you, sir, to the 
bazars of Stamboul without delay ; and lay out in ex- 
tensive slave-purchases some of that spare cash you seem 
at a loss to spend satisfactorily here." 

" And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargain- 
ing for so many tons of flesh and such an assortment of 
black eyes ? " 

" I'll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to 
preach liberty to them that are enslaved — your harem 
mmates amongst the rest. I'll get admitted there, and 
I'll stir up mutiny ; and you, three-tailed bashaw as you 
are, sir, shall in a trice find yourself fettered amongst 
our hands : nor will I, for one, consent to cut your 
bonds till you have signed a charter, the most liberal 
that despot ever yet conferred." 

" I would consent to be at your mercy, Jane." 

" I would have no mercy, Mr Rochester, if you 
supplicated for it with an eye like that. While you 
looked so, I should be certain that whatever charter 
you might grant under coercion, your first act, when 
released, would be to violate its conditions." 

"Why, Jane, what would you have? I fear you 
will compel me to go through a private marriage 
ceremony, besides that performed at the altar. You 
will stipulate, I see, for peculiar terms — what will 
they be?" 

" I only want an easy mind, sir ; not crushed by 
crowded obligations. Do you remember what you said 
of Celine Varens ? — of the diamonds, the cashmeres 
you gave her ? I will not be your English Celine 
Varens. I shall continue to act as Adele's governess ; 
by that I shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty 
pounds a year besides. I'll furnish my own wardrobe 



44 JANE EYRE. 

out of that money, and you shall give me nothing 
but " 

"Well, but what?" 

" Your regard : and if I give you mine in return, that 
debt will be quit." 

" Well, for cool native impudence, and pure innate 
pride, you haven't your equal," said he. We were 
now approaching Thornfield. " Will it please you to 
dine with me to-day ? " he asked, as we re-entered 
the gates. 

" No, thank you, sir." 

" And what for * no, thank you ? ' if one may 
inquire." 

" I never have dined with you, sir : and I see no 
reason why I should now : till " 

"Till what i You delight in half-phrases." 

"Till I can't help it." 

" Do you suppose I eat like an ogre, or a ghoul, that 
you dread being the companion of my repast ? " 

" I have formed no supposition on the subject, sir ; 
but I want to go on as usual for another month." 

" You will give up your governessing slavery at 
once." 

" Indeed ! begging your pardon, sir, I shall not. I 
shall just go on with it as usual. I shall keep out of 
your way all day, as I have been accustomed to do : 
you may send for me in the evening, when you feel dis- 
posed to see me, and I'll come then, but at no other 
time." 

" I want a smoke, Jane, or a pmch of snuff, to 
comfort me under all this ' pour me donner une con- 
tenance,' as Adele would say ; and unfortunately I have 
neither my cigar-case, nor my snuff-box. But listen — 
whisper — it is your time now, little tyrant, but it will 
be mine presently : and when once I have fairly seized 
you, to have and to hold, I'll just — figuratively speaking 



JANE EYRE. 45 

— attach you to a chain like this " (touching his watch- 
guard). "Yes, bonny wee thing, I'll wear you in my 
bosom, lest my jewel I should tyne." 

He said this as he helped me to alight from the 
carnage : and while he afterwards lifted out Adele, 
I entered the house, and made good my retreat 
upstairs. 

He duly summoned me to his presence in the even- 
ing. I had prepared an occupation for him ; for I was 
determined not to spend the whole time in a tete-a-tCte 
conversation. I remembered his fine voice : I knew he 
liked to sing — good singers generally do. I was no 
vocalist myself, and, in his fastidious judgment, no musi- 
cian, either ; but I delighted in listening when the per- 
formance was good. No sooner had twilight, that hour 
of romance, began to lower her blue and starry banner 
over the lattice, than I rose, opened the piano, and 
entreated him, for the love of heaven, to give me a song. 
He said I was a capricious witch, and that he would 
rather sing another time ; but I averred that no time 
was like the present. 

" Did I like his voice ? " he asked. 

" Very much." I was not fond of pampering that 
susceptible vanity of his ; but for once, and from motives 
of expediency, I would e'en soothe and stimulate it. 

" Then, Jane, you must play the accompaniment." 

" Very well, sir, I will try." 

I did try, but was presently swept off the stool and 
denominated, "a little bungler." Being pushed un- 
ceremoniously to one side — which was precisely wh at I 
wished — -he usurped my place, and proceeded' to accom- 
pany himself: for he could play as well as sing. I 
hied me to the window-recess ; and while I sat there 
and looked out on the still trees and dim lawn, to a 
sweet air was sung in mellow tones the following 
strain : — 



46 JANE EYRE. 

The truest love that ever heart 

Felt at its kindled core 
Did through each vein, in quickened start, 

The tide of being pour. 

Her coming viras my hope each day, 

Her parting was my pain ; 
The chance that did her steps delay 

Was ice in every vein. 

I dreamed it would be nameless bliss, 

As I loved, loved to be ; 
And to this object did I press 

As blind as eagerly. 

But wide as pathless was the space 

That lay, our lives, between, 
And dangerous as the foamy race 

Of ocean-surges green. 

And haunted as a robber path 
Through wilderness or wood ; 

For Might and Right, and Woe and Wrath, 
Between our spirits stood. 

I dangers dared ; I hind'rance scorned ; 

I omens did defy ; 
Whatever menaced, harassed, warned, 

I passed impetuous by. 

On sped my rainbow, fast as light ; 

1 flew as in a dream ; 
For glorious rose upon my sight 

That child of Shower and Gleam. 

Still bright on clouds of suffering dim 
Shines that soft, solemn joy ; 

Nor care I now, how dense and grim 
Disasters gather nigh. 

I care not in this moment sweet. 
Though all I have rushed o'er 

Should come on pinion, strong and fleet, 
Proclaiming vengeance sore: 



JANE EYRE. 47 

Though haughty Hate should strike me down, 

Right, bar approach to me. 
And grinding Might, with furious Irown, 

Swear endless enmity. 

My love has placed her little hand 

With noble faith in mine. 
And vowed that wedlock's sacred band 

Our nature shall entwine. 

My love has sworn, with sealing kiss. 

With me to live — to die ; 
I have at last my nameless bliss : 

As I love — loved am I ! 

He rose and came towards me, and I saw his face 
all kindled, and his full falcon-eye flashing, and tender- 
ness and passion in every lineament. I quailed momen- 
tarily — then I rallied. Soft scene, daring demonstra- 
tion, I would not have ; and I stood in peril of both : 
a weapon of defence must be prepared — I whetted my 
tongue ; as he reached me, I asked with asperity, 
" whom he was going to marry now ? " 

" That was a strange question to be put by his 
darling Jane." 

" Indeed ! I considered it a very natural and neces- 
sary one : he had talked of his future wife dying with 
him. What did he mean by such a pagan idea ? 1 
had no intention of dying with him — he might depend 
on that." 

" Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I 
might live with him ! Death was not for such as I." 

" Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when 
my time came as he had : but I should bide that time, 
and not be hurried away in a suttee." 

" Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove 
my pardon by a reconciling kiss ? " 

" No : I would rather be excused." 

Here I heard myself apostrophised as a " hard little 



48 JANE EYRE. 

thing " ; and it was added, " any other woman would 
have been melted to marrow at hearing such stanzas 
crooned in her praise." 

I assured him 1 was naturally hard — very flinty, and 
that he would often find me so ; and that, moreover, I 
was determined to show him divers rugged points in my 
character before the ensuing four weeks elapsed : he 
should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made, 
while there was yet time to rescind it. 

" Would I be quiet, and talk rationally ? " 

" I would be quiet if he liked ; and as to talking 
rationally, I flattered myself I was doing that now." 

He fretted, pished, and pshawed. " Very good," I 
thought ; " you may fume and fidget as you pl.?ase : 
but this is the best plan to pursue with you, I am cer- 
tain. I like you more than I can say ; but I'll not 
sink into a bathos of sentiment ; and with this needle 
of repartee I'll keep you from the edge of the gulph 
too ; and, moreover, maintain by its pungent aid that 
distance between you and myself most conducive to our 
real mutual advantage." 

From less to more, I worked him up to considerable 
irritation ; then, after he had retired, in dudgeon, quite 
to the other end of the room, and I got up, saying, " I 
wish you good-night, sir," in my natiu-al and wonted 
respectful manner, I slipped out by the side-door and 
got away. 

The system thus entered on, I pursued during the 
whole season of probation ; and with the best success. 
He was kept, to be sure, I'ather cross and crusty : but 
on the whole I could see he was excellently enter- 
tained ; and that a lamb-like submission and turtle- 
dove sensibility, while fostering his despotism more, 
would have pleased his judgment, satisfied his common- 
sense, and even suited his taste, less. 

In other people's presence I was, as formerly, defer- 



JANE EYRE. 49 

entlal and quiet ; any other line of conduct being un- 
called for : it was only in the evening conferences I 
thus thwarted and afflicted him. He continued to send 
for me punctually the moment the clock struck seven ; 
though when I appeared before him now, he had no 
such honeyed terms as " love " and " darling " on his 
lips : the best words at my service were " provoking 
puppet," "malicious elf," "sprite," "changeling," &c. 
For caresses, too, I now got grimaces ; for a pressure 
of the hand, a pinch on the arm ; for a kiss on the 
cheek, a severe tweak of the ear. It was all right: at 
present I decidedly preferred these fierce favours to 
anything more tender. Mrs Fairfax, I saw, approved 
mp : her anxiety on my account vanished ; therefore I 
was certain I did well. Meantime, Mr Rochester 
affirmed I was wearing him to skin and bone, and 
threatened awful vengeance for my present conduct at 
some period fast coming. I laughed in my sleeve at 
his menaces : " I can keep you in reasonable check 
now," I reflected ; " and I don't doubt to be able to 
do it hereafter : if one expedient loses its virtue, an- 
other must be devised." 

Yet after all my task was not an easy one ; often I 
would jiather, have_^leased than teased him. My 
TuTure husband was becoming to me my wTiole world ; 
and more than the world : almost my hope of heaven. 
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as 
an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. 
I could not, in those days see God for his creature : of 
whom I had made an idol. 



11. 



5© JANE EYRE. 



Chapter %%b* 

THE month of courtship had wasted : its very last 
hours were being numbered. There was no 
putting off the day that advanced — the bridal 
day ; and all preparations for its arrival were complete. 
/, at least, had nothing more to do : there were my 
trunks, packed, locked, corded, ranged in a row along 
the wall of my little chamber ; to-morrow, at this time, 
they would be far on their road to London : and so 
should I (D.V.), — or rather, not I, but one Jane 
Rochester, a person whom as yet I knew not. The 
cards of address alone remained to nail on : they lay, 
four little squares on the drawer. Mr Rochester had 

himself written the direction, " Mrs Rochester, 

Hotel, London," on each : I could not persuade 
myself to affix them, or to have them affixed. Mrs 
Rochester! She did not exist : she would not be born 
till to-morrow, some time after eight o'clock a.m. : and 
I would wait to be assured she had come into the world 
alive, before I assigned to her all that property. It was 
enough that in yonder closet, opposite my dressing- 
table, garments said to be hers had already displaced 
my black stuff Lowood frock and straw bonnet : for 
not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment ; 
the pearl-coloured robe, the vapoury veil, pendent from 
the usurped portmanteau. I shut the closet, to conceal 
the strange, wraith-like apparel it contained ; which, at 
this evening hour — nine o'clock — gave out certainly a 
most ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my apart- 
ment. " I will leave you by yourself, white dream," 
I said. " I am feverish : I hear the wind blowing : I 
will go out of doors and feel it." 

It was not only the hurry of preparation that made 
me feverish ; not only the anticipation of the great 



JANE EVRE 51 

change — the new life which was to commence to- 
morrow ; both these circumstances had their share, 
doubtless, in producing that restless, excited mood which 
hurried me forth at this late hour into the darkening 
grounds : but a third cause influenced my mind more 
than they. 

I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Some- 
thing had happened which I could not comprehend ; no 
one knew of or had seen the event but myself: it had 
taken place the preceding night. Mr Rochester that 
night was absent from home ; nor was he yet returned : 
business had called him to a small estate of two or three 
farms he possessed thirty miles off — business it was 
requisite he should settle in person, previously to his 
meditated departure from England. I waited now his 
return ; eager to disburthen my mind, and to seek of 
him the solution of the enigma that perplexed me. 
Stay till he comes, reader ; and, when I disclose my 
secret to him, you shall share the confidence. 

I sought the orchard : driven to its shelter by the 
wind, which all day had blown strong and full from the 
south ; without, however, bringing a speck of rain. 
Instead of subsiding as night drew on, it seemed to 
augment its rush and deepen its roar : tlie trees blew 
stedfastly one way, never writhing round, and scarcely 
tossing back their boughs once in an hour ; so continu- 
ous was the strain bending their branchy heads north- 
ward — the clouds drifted from pole to pole, fast 
following, mass on mass : no glimpse of blue sky had 
been visible that July day. 

It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran 
before the wind delivering my trouble of mind to the 
measureless air-torrent tliundering through space. De- 
scending the laurel walk, I faced the wreck of the 
chesnut-tree ; it stood up, black and riven : the trunk, 
split down the centre, gasped ghastly. The cloven 



52 JANE EYRE. 

halves were not broken from each other, for the firm 
base and strong roots kept them unsunde/ed below ; 
though community of vitality was destroyed — the sap 
could flow no more : their great boughs on each 
side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be 
sure to fell one or both to earth : as yet, however, they 
might be said to form one tree — a ruin, but an entire 
ruin. 

" You did right to hold fast to each other," I said : 
as if the monster-splinters were living things, and could 
hear me. " I think, scathed as you look, and charred 
and scorched, there must be a little sense of life in you 
yet : rising out of that adhesion at the faithful, honest 
roots : you will never have green leaves more — never 
more see birds making nests and singing idylls in your 
boughs ; the time of pleasure and love is over with 
you : but you are not desolate : each of you has a 
comrade to sympathise with him in his decay." As I 
looked up at them, the moon appeared momentarily in 
that part of the sky which filled their fissure ; her disk 
was blood-red, and half overcast ; she seemed to throw 
on me one bewildered, dreary glance, and buried her- 
self again instantly in the deep drift of cloud. The 
wind fell, for a second, round Thornfield ; but far away 
over wood and water, poured a wild, melancholy wail : 
it was sad to listen to, and I ran off again. 

Here and there I strayed through the orchard, 
gathered up the apples with which the grass round the 
tree roots was thickly strewn : then I employed mysdf 
in dividing the ripe from the unripe ; I carried them 
into the house and put them away in the store-room. 
Then I repaired to the library to ascertain whether the 
fire was lit ; for, though summer, I knew on such a 
gloomy evening, Mr Rochester would like to see a 
cheerful hearth when he came in : yes, the fire had 
been kindled some time, and burnt well. I placed his 



JANE EYRE. 53 

arm-chair by the chimney-corner : I wheeled the table 
near it : I let down the curtain, and had the candles 
brought in ready for lighting. More restless than ever, 
when I had completed these arrangements I could not 
sit still, nor even remain in the house : a little time- 
piece in the room and the old clock in the hall simul- 
taneously struck ten. 

" How late it grows ! " I said : " I will run down 
to the gates : it is moonlight at intervals : I can see a 
good way on the road. He may be coming now, and 
to meet him will save some minutes of suspense." 

The wind roared high in the great trees which em- 
bowered the gates ; but the road as far as I could see, 
to the right hand and the left, was all still and solitary : 
save for the shadows of clouds crossing it at intervals, 
as the moon looked out, it was but a long pale line, 
unvaried by one moving speck. 

A puerile tear dimmed my eye while I looked — a 
tear of disappointment and impatience : ashamed of it, 
I wiped it away. I lingered ; the moon shut herself 
wholly within her chamber, and drew close her curtain 
of dense cloud : the night grew dark ; rain came driving 
fast on the gale. 

" I wish he would come ! I wish he would come 1 " I 
e>tclaimed, seized with hypochondriac foreboding. I had 
expected his arrival before tea ; now it was dark : what 
could keep him ? Had an accident happened ? The 
event of last night again recurred to me. I interpreted 
it as a warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were 
too bright to be realised ; and I had enjoyed_so much 
bliss lately that I imagined my^itune_Jmd_paased._its_ 
meridTanXAncUiiusLilQiiLSkcIiae. _ 

" Well, I cannot return to the house," I thought ; 
" I cannot sit by the fireside, while he is abroad in in- 
clement weather : better tire my limbs than strain my 
heart ; I will go forward and meet him." 



54 JANE EYRE. 

I set out ; I walked fast, but not far : ere T had 
measured a quarter of a mile, I heard the tramp of 
hoofs ; a horseman came on, full gallop ; a dog ran by 
his side. Away with evil presentiment ! It was he : 
here he was, mounted on Mesrour, followed by Pilot. 
He saw me ; for the moon had opened a blue field in 
the sky, and rode in it watery bright : he took his hat 
off, and waved it round his head. I now ran to meet 
him. 

" There ! " he exclaimed, as he stretched out his 
hand and bent from the saddle : " You can't do with- 
out me, that is evident. Step on my boot-toe ; give 
me both hands : mount ! " 

I obeyed ; joy made me agile : I sprang up before 
him. A hearty kissing I got for a welcome ; and 
some boastful triumph, which I swallowed as well as I 
could. He checked himself in his exultation to demand, 
*• But is there anything the matter, Janet, that you come 
to meet me at such an hour ? Is there anything 
wrong ? " 

" No ; but I thought you would never come. I 
could not bear to wait in the house for you, especially 
with this rain and wind." 

" Rain and wind, indeed ! Yes, you are dripping 
like a mermaid ; pull my cloak round you : but I think 
you are feverish, Jane : both your cheek and hand are 
burning hot. I ask again, is there anything the 
matter ? " 

" Nothing, now : I am neither afraid nor unhappy." 

" Then you have been both ? " 

" Rather : but I'll tell you all about it by-and-by, 
sir ; and I daresay you will only laugh at me for my 
pains." 

" I'll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past ; 
till then I dare not : my prize is not certain. This is 
you ; who have been as slippery as an eel this last month, 



JANE EYRE. 55 

and as thorny as a briar-rose ? I could not lay a finger 
anywhere but I was pricked ; and now I seem to 
have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms : you 
wandered out of the fold to seek your shepherd, did 
you, Jane ? " 

" I wanted you : but don't boast. Here we are at 
Thornfield : now let me get down." 

He landed me on the pavement. As John took his 
horse, and he followed me into the hall, he told me to 
make haste and put something dry on, and then return 
to him in the library ; and he stopped me, as I made 
for the staircase, to extort a promise that I would not 
be long : nor was I long ; in five minutes I rejoined 
him. I found him at supper. 

" Take a seat and bear me company, Jane : please 
God, it is the last meal but one you will eat at Thornfield 
Hall for a long time." 

I sat down near him ; but told him I could not 
eat. 

" Is it because you have the prospect of a journey 
before you, Jane ? Is it the thoughts of going to 
London that takes away your appetite ? " 

" I cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir : and 
I hardly know what thoughts I have in my head. 
Everything in life seems unreal." 

" Except me : I am substantial enough : — touch 
me. 

" You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all ; you are 
a mere dream." 

He held out his hand, laughing : " Is that a dream ? " 
said he, placing it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, 
muscular, and vigorous hand, as well as a long, strong 
arm. 

"Yes; though I touch it, it is a dream," said I, as 
I put it down from before my face. " Sir, have you 
finished supper ? " 



56 JANE EYRE. 

"Yes, Jane." 

I rang the bell, and ordered away the tray. When we 
were again alone, I stirred the fire, and then took a low 
seat at my master's knee. 

" It is near midnight," I said. 

" Yes : but remember, Jane, you promised to wake 
with me the night before my wedding." 

" I did ; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or 
two at least ; I have no wish to go to bed." 

" Are all your arrangements complete ? " 

" All, sir." 

" And on my part, likewise," he returned, " I have 
settled everything ; and we leave Thornfield to-morrow, 
within half an hour after our return from church." 

"Very well, sir." 

" With what an extraordinary smile you uttered that 
word — ' very well,' Jane ! What a bright spot of 
colour you have on each cheek ! and how strangely 
your eyes glitter ! Are you well ? " 

" I believe I am." 

" Believe ! What is the matter ? — Tell me what 
you feel." 

" I could not, sir : no words could tell yeu what I 
feel. I wish this present hour would never end : who 
knows with what fate the next may come charged ? " 

" This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over- 
excited or over-fatigued." 

" Do you, sir, feel calm and happy : " 

'' Calm ? — no : but happy — to the heart's core." 

I looked up at him to read the signs of bliss in hia 
face : it was ardent and flushed. 

" Give me your confidence, Jane," he said : " relieve 
your mind of any weight that oppresses it, by imparting 
it to me. What do you fear ? — that I shall not prove 
a good husband ? " 

" It is the idea farthest from my thoughts." 



JANE EYRE. 57 

" Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are 
about to enter ? — of the new life into which you are 
passing ? " 

« No." 

" You puzzle me, Jane : your look and tone of 
sorrowful audacity pei-plex and pain me. I want an 
explanation." 

" Then, sir, — listen. You were from home last 
night ? " 

" I was : — I know that ; and you hinted a while ago 
at something which had happened in my absence : — 
nothing, probably, of consequence ; but, in short, it has 
disturbed you. Let me hear it. Mrs Fairfax has said 
something, perhaps ? or you have overheard the ser- 
vants talk ? — your sensitive self-respect has been 
wounded ? " 

" No, sir." It struck twelve — I waited till the time- 
piece had concluded its silver chime, and the clock its 
hoarse, vibrating stroke, and then I proceeded. 

" All day, yesterday, I was very busy, and very happy 
in my ceaseless bustle ; for I am not, as you seem to 
think, troubled by any haunting fears about the new 
sphere, et cetera : I think it a glorious thing to have the 
hope of living with you, because I love you. No, sir, 
don't caress me now — let me talk undisturbed. Yes- 
terday I trusted well in Providence, and believed that 
events were working together for your good and mine : 
it was a tine day, if you recollect — the calmness of the 
air and sky forbade apprehensions regarding your safety 
or comfort on your journey. I walked a little while on 
the pavement after tea, thinking of you ; and I beheld 
you in imagination so near me, I scarcely missed your 
actual presence. I thought of the life that lay before 
me — your life, sir — an existence more expansive and 
stirring than my own : as much more so as the depths 
of the sea to which the brook runs, are than the shallows 



58 JANE EYRE. 

of its own strait channel. I wondered why moralists 
call this world a dreary wilderness : for me it blossomed 
like a rose. Just at sunset, the air turned cold and 
the sky cloudy : I went in. Sophie called me upstairs 
to look at my wedding-dress, which they had just 
brought ; and under it in the box I found your present 
— the veil which, in your princely extravagance, you 
sent for from London : resolved, I suppose, since I 
would not have jewels, to cheat me into accepting some- 
thing as costly. I smiled as I unfolded it, and devised 
how I would tease you about your aristocratic tastes, 
and your efforts to masque your plebeian bride in the 
attributes of a peeress. I thought how I would carry 
down to you the square of unembroidered blond I had 
myself prepared as a covering for my low-born head, 
and ask if that was not good enough for a woman who 
could bring her husband neither fortune, beauty, nor con- 
nections. I saw plainly how you would look ; and heard 
your impetuous republican answers, and your haughty 
disavowal of any necessity on your part to augment your 
wealth, or elevate your standing, by marrying either a 
purse or a coronet." 

" How well you read me, you witch ! " interposed 
Mr Rochester : " but what did you find in the veil 
besides its embroidery ? Did you find poison or a 
dagger that you look so mournful now ? " 

" No, no, sir ; besides the delicacy and richness of 
the fabric, I found nothing save Fairfax Rochester's 
pride ; and that did not scare me, because I am used 
to the sight of the demon. But, sir, as it grew dark, 
the wind rose : it blew yesterday evening, not as it 
blows now — wild and high — but 'with a sullen, moan- 
ing sound ' far more eerie. I wished you were at 
home. I came into this room, and the sight of the 
empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. For some 
time after I went to bed, I could not sleep — a sense of 



JANE EYRt. 59 

anxious excitement distressed me. The gale still rising, 
seemed to my ear to muffle a mournful under-sound ; 
whether in the house or abroad I could not at first tell, 
but it recurred, doubtful yet doleful at every lull : at 
last I made out it must be some dog howling at a 
distance. I was glad when it ceased. On sleeping, I 
continued in dreams the idea of a dark and gusty night. 
I continued also the wish to be with you, and experi- 
enced a strange, regretful consciousness, of some barrier 
dividing us. During all my first sleep, I was following 
the windings of an unknown road ; total obscurity en- 
vironed me ; rain pelted me ; I was burdened with the 
change of a little child : a very small creature, too 
young and feeble to walk, and which shivered in my 
cold arms, and wailed piteously in my ear. I thought, 
sir, that you were on the road a long way before me ; 
and I strained every nerve to overtake you, and made 
effort on effort to utter your name and entreat you to 
stop — but my movements were fettered ; and my voice 
still died away inarticulate ; while you, I felt, withdrew 
farther and farther every moment." 

" And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, 
Jane, when I am close to you ? Little nervous sub- 
ject ! Forget visionary woe, and think only of real 
happiness ! You say you love me, Janet : yes — I will 
not forget that ; and you cannot deny it. Those words 
did not die inarticulate on your lips. I heard them 
clear and soft : a thought too solemn perhaps, but sweet 
as music — ' I think it is a glorious thing to have the 
hope of living with you, Edward, because I love you.' 
— Do you love me, Jane ? repeat it." 

" I do, sir. — I do, with my whole heart." 

" Well," he said, after some minutes' silence, " it is 

strange ; but that sentence has penetrated my breast 

painfully. Why ? I think because you said it with 

such an earnest, religious energy ; and because your 



6o JANE EYRE. 

upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith, 
truth, and devotion : it is too much as if some spirit 
were near me. Look wicked, Jane ; as you know well 
how to look ; coin one of your wild, shy, provoking 
smiles ; tell me you hate me — tease me, vex me : do 
anything but move me : I would rather be incensed 
than saddened." 

" I will tease you and vex you to your heart's con- 
tent, when I have finished my tale : but hear me to the 
end." 

" I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought 
I had found the source of your melancholy in a 
dream ! " 

I shook my head. " What ! is there more ? But 
I will not believe it to be anything important. I warn 
you of incredulity beforehand. Go on." 

The disquietude of his air, the somewhat apprehen- 
sive impatience of his manner, surprised me : but I 
proceeded. 

" I dreamt another dream, sir : that Thornfield 
Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I 
thought that of all the stately front nothing remained 
but a shell-like wall, very high, and very fragile- 
looking. I wandered, on a moonlight night, through 
the grass-grown enclosure within : here I stumbled 
over a maible hearth, and there over a fallen fragment 
of cornice. Wrapped up in a shawl, I still carried the 
unknown little child : I might not lay it down any- 
where, however tired were my arms — however much its 
weight impeded my progress, I must retain it. I heard 
the gallop of a horse at a distance on the road : I was 
sure it was you ; and you were departing for many 
years, and for a distant country. I climbed the thin 
wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch one 
glimpse of you from the top : the stones rolled from 
under my feet, the ivy branches I grasped gave way. 



JANE EYRE. 6 1 

the child clung round my neck in terror, and almost 
strangled me : at last I gained the summit. I saw 
you like a speck on a white track, lessening every 
moment. The blast blew so strong I could not stand. 
I sat down on the narrow ledge ; I hushed the scared 
infant in my lap : you turned an angle in the road ; I 
bent forward to take a last look ; the wall crumbled ; 
I was shaken ; the child rolled from my knee, I lost 
my balance, fell, and w©ke." 

" Now, Jane, that is all." 

" All the preface, sir ; the tale is yet to come. On 
waking, a gleam dazzled my eyes : I thought — oh, it is 
daylight ! But I was mistaken : it was only candle- 
light. Sophie, 1 supposed, had come in. There was 
a light on the dressing table, and the door of the closet, 
where, before going to bed, I had hung my wedding 
dress and veil, stood open : I heard a rustling there. I 
asked, * Sophie, what are you doing ? ' No one an- 
swered ; but a form emeiged from the closet : it took 
the light, held it aloft and surveyed the garments pendent 
from the portmanteau. ' Sophie ! Sophie ! ' I again 
cried : and still it was silent. I had risen up in bed, I 
bent forward : first, surprise, then bewilderment, came 
over me ; and then my blood crept cold through my 
veins. Mr Rochester, this was not Sophie, it was not 
Leah, it was not Mrs Fairfax : it was not — no, I was 
sure of it, and am still — it was not even that strange 
woman, Grace Poole." 

" It must have been one of them," interrupted my 
master. 

" No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. 
The shape standing before me had never crossed my 
eyes within the precincts of Thornfield Hall before ; 
the height, the contour were new to me." 

" Describe it, Jane." 

" It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick 



62 JANE EYRE. 

and dark hair hanging long down her back. I know 
not what dress she had on : it was white and straight ; 
but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell." 

" Did you see her flice ? " 

" Not at first. But presently she took my veil from 
its place ; she held it up ; gazed at it long, and then 
she threw it over her own head, and turned to the 
mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection of the 
visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong 
glass." 

" And how were they ? " 

" Fearful and ghastly to me — oh, sir, I never saw a 
face like it ! It was a discoloured face — it was a savage 
face. I wish I could forget the roll of the red eyes 
and the fearful blackened inflation of the lineaments ! " 

" Ghosts are usually pale, Jane." 

" This, sir, was purple : the lips were swelled and 
dark ; the brow furrowed ; the black eyebrows widely 
raised over the blood-shot eyes. Shall I tell you of 
what it reminded me ? " 

" You may." 

*' Of the foul German spectre — the Vampyre." 

" Ah ! — what did it do ? " 

" Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent 
it in two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled 
on them." 

" Afterwards ? " 

" It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out : 
perhaps it saw dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, 
it retreated to the door. Just at my bedside the figure 
stopped : the fiery eye glared upon me — she thrust up 
her candle close to my face, and extinguished it under 
my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over 
mine, and I lost consciousness : for the second time in 
my life — only the second time — I became insensible 
from terror." 



JANE EYRE. ' 63 

" Who was with you when you revived ? " 

" No one, sir ; but the broad day. I rose, bathed 
my head and face in water, drank a long draught ; felt 
that though enfeebled I was not ill, and determined that 
to none but you would I impart this vision. Now, sir, 
tell me who and what that woman was ? " 

" The creature of an over-stimulated brain ; that is 
certain. I must be careful of you, my treasure : nerves 
like yours were not made for rough handling." 

" Sir, depend upon it, my nerves were not in fault ; 
the thing was real : the transaction actually took 
place." 

" And your previous dreams : were they real too ? 
Is Thornfield Hall a ruin ? Am I severed from you 
by insuperable obstacles ? Am I leaving you without 
a tear — without a kiss — without a word ? " 

" Not yet." 

" Am I about to do it ? — Why the day is already 
commenced which is to bind us indissolubly ; and when 
we are once united, there shall be no recurrence of these 
mental terrors : I guarantee that." 

" Mental terrors, sir ! I wish I could believe them 
to be only such : I wish it more than ever ; since even 
you cannot explain to me the mystery of that awful 
visitant." 

" And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been 
unreal." 

" But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this 
morning, and when I looked round the room to 
gather courage and comfort from the cheerful aspect of 
each familiar object in full daylight, there — on the 
carpet — I saw what gave the distinct lie to my 
hypothesis, — the veil, torn from top to bottom in two 
halves ! " 

I felt Mr Rochester start and shudder ; he hastily 
flung his arms round me : " Thank God ! " he ex- 



64 JANE EYRE. 

claimed, " that if anything malignant did come near 
you last night, it was only the veil that was harmed. — • 
Oh, to think what might have happened ! " 

He drew his breath short, and strained me so close 
to him, I could scarcely pant. After some minutes' 
silence, he continued, cheerily : — 

" Now, Janet, I'll explain to you all about it. It 
was half dream, half reality : a woman did, I doubt 
not, enter your room : and that woman was — must 
have been — Grace Poole. You call her a strange 
being yourself : from all you know, you have reason so 
to call her — what did she do to me ? what to Mason ? 
In a state between sleeping and waking, you noticed 
her entrance and her actions ; but feverish, almost 
delirious as you were, you ascribed to her a goblin 
appearance different from her own : the long dishevelled 
hair, the swelled black face, the exaggerated stature, 
were figments of imagination ; results of nightmare : 
the spiteful tearing of the veil was real ; and it is like 
her. I see you would ask why I keep such a woman 
in my house : when we have been married a year and a 
day, I will tell you : but not now. Are you satisfied, 
Jane ? Do you accept my solution of the mystery ? " 

I reflected, and in truth it appeared to me the only 
possible one : satisfied I was not, but to please him I 
endeavoured to appear so — relieved, I certainly did 
feel ; so I answered him with a contented smile. And 
now, as it was long past one, I prepared to leave him. 

" Does not Sophie sleep with Adelein the nursery ? " 
he asked, as I lit my candle. 

" Yes, sir." 

'• And there is room enough in AdMe's little bed 
for you. You must share it with her to-night, Jane : 
it is no wonder that the incident you have related should 
make you nervous, and I would rather you did not 
sleep alone : promise me to go to the nursery." 



JANE EYRE. 6$ 

" I shall be very glad to do so, sir." 

" And fasten the door securely on the inside. Wake 
Sophie when you go upstairs, under pretence of request- 
ing her to rouse you in good time to-morrow ; for you 
must be dressed and have finished breakfast before 
eight. And now, no more sombre thoughts : chase 
dull care away, Janet. Don't you hear to what soft 
whispers the wind has fallen ? and there is no more 
beating of rain against the window-panes : look here " 
(he lifted up the curtain) — " it is a lovely night ! " 

It was. Half heaven was pure and stainless : the 
clouds, now trooping before the wind, which had 
shifted to the west, were filing off eastward, in long, 
silvered columns. The moon shone peacefully. 

" Well," said Mr Rochester, gazing inquiringly mto 
my eyes, " how is my Janet now ? " 

" The night is serene, sir ; and so am I." 

" And you will not dream of separation and sorrow 
to-night ; but of happy love and blissful union." 

This prediction was but half fulfilled : I did not 
indeed dream of sorrow, but as little did I dream of 
joy ; for I never slept at all. With little Adele in 
my arms, I watched the slumber of childhood — so 
tranquil, so passionless, so innocent — and waited for 
the coming day : all my life was awake and astir in my 
frame : and as soon as the sun rose I rose too. I 
remember Adiile clung to me as I left her : I remem- 
ber I kissed her as I loosened her little hands from my 
neck ; and I cried over her with strange emotion, and 
quitted her because I feared my sobs would break her 
still sound repose. She seemed the emblem of my 
past life ; and he, I was now to array myself to meet, 
the dread, but adored, type of my unknown future day. 



II. 



66 JANE EYRE. 



Chapter jc^bj* 

SOPHIE came at seven to dress me ; she was very 
long indeed in accomplishing her task ; so long 
that Mr Rochester, grown, I suppose, impatient 
of my delay, sent up to ask why I did not come. She 
was just listening my veil (the plain square of blond 
after all) to my hair with a brooch ; I hurried from 
under her hands as soon as I could. 

" Stop ! " she cried in French. " Look at yourself 
in the mirror : you have not taken one peep." 

So I turned at the door : I saw a robed and veiled 
figure, so unlike my usual self that it seemed almost the 
image of a stranger. " Jane ! " called a voice, and I 
hastened down. I was received at the foot of the 
stairs by Mr Rochester. 

" Lingerer," he said, " my brain is on fire with im- 
patience ; and you tarry so long ! " 

He took me into the dining - room, surveyed me 
keenly all over, pronounced me " fair as a lily, and not 
only the pride of his life, but the desire of his eyes," 
and then telling me he would give me but ten minutes 
to eat some breakfast, he rang the bell. One of his 
lately hired servants, a footman, answered it. 

" Is John getting the carriage ready ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Is the luggage brought down ? " 

" They are bringing it down, sir." 

" Go you to the church : see if Mr Wood (the 
clergyman) and the clerk are there: return and tell 
me. 

The church, as the reader knows, was but just beyond 
the gates ; the footman soon returned. 

" Mr Wood is in the vestry, sir, putting on his 
surplice." 



JANE EYRE. 67 

" And the carriage i " 

" Tlie horses are harnessing." 

" We shall not want it to go to church ; but it must 
be ready the moment we return : all the boxes and 
luggage arranged and strapped on, and the coachman in 
his seat." 

" Yes, sir." 

" Jane, are you ready ? " 

I rose. There were no groomsmen, no bridesmaids, 
no relatives to wait for or marshal : none but Mr 
Rochester and I. Mrs Fairfax stood in the hall as we 
passed. I would fain have spoken to her, but my 
hand was held by a grasp of iron : I was hurried 
along by a stride I could hardly follow ; and to look at 
Mr Rochester's face was to feel that not a second of 
delay would be tolerated for any purpose. I wonder 
what other bridegroom ever looked as he did — so bent 
up to a purpose, so grimly resolute : or who, under 
such stedfast brows, ever revealed such flaming and 
flashing eyes. 

I know not whether the day was fair or foul ; in 
descending the drive, I gazed neither on sky nor earth : 
my heart was with my eyes ; and both seemed migrated 
into Mr Rochester's frame. I wanted to see the in- 
visible thing on which, as we went along, he appeared 
to fasten a glance fierce and fell. I wanted to feel the 
thoughts whose force he seemed breasting and resisting. 

At the churchyard wicket he stopped : he discovered 
I was quite out of breath. " Am I cruel in my love ? " 
he said. " Delay an instant : lean on me, Jane." 

And now I can recall the picture of the grey old 
house of God rising calm before me, of a rook wheeling 
round the steeple, of a ruddy morning sky beyond. I 
remember something, too, of the green grave-mounds ; 
and I have not forgotten, either, two figures of strangers, 
straying amongst the low hillocks, and reading the 



6o JANE EVRE. 

mementoes graven on the few mossy head-stones. I 
noticed them, because, as they saw us, they passed 
round to the back of the cliurch ; and I doubted not 
they were going to enter by the side-aisle door, and 
witness the ceremony. By Mr Rochester they were 
not observed ; he was earnestly looking at my face, 
from which the blood had, I daresay, momentarily 
fled : for I felt my forehead dewy, and my cheeks and 
lips cold. When I rallied, which I soon did, he 
walked gently with me up the path to the porch. 

We entered the quiet and humble temple ; the priest 
waited in his white surplice at the lowly altar, the clerk 
beside him. All was still : two shadows only moved 
in a remote corner. My conjecture had been correct : 
the strangers had slipped in before us, and they now 
stood by the vault of the Rochesters, their backs 
towards us, viewing through the rails the old time- 
stained marble tomb, where a kneeling angel guarded 
the remains of Damer de Rochester, slain at Marston 
Moor in the time of the civil wars ; and of Elizabeth, 
his wife. 

Our place was taken at the communion rails. Hear- 
ing a cautious step behind me, 1 glanced over my 
shoulder : one of the strangers — a gentleman, evi- 
dently — was advancing up the chancel. The service 
began. The explanation of the intent of matrimony 
was gone through ; and then the clergyman came a step 
further forward, and, bending slightly towards Mr 
Rochester, went on. 

" I require and charge you both (as ye will answer 
at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all 
hearts shall be disclosed), that if either of you know 
any impediment why ye may not lawfully be joined to- 
gether in matrimony, ye do now confess it ; for be ye 
well assured that so many as are coupled together 
otherv/ise than God's word doth allow, are not joined 



JANE EYRE. 69 

together by God, neither is their matrimony law- 
ful." 

He paused, as the custom is. When is the pause 
after that sentence ever broken by reply ? Not, per- 
haps, once in a hundred years. And the clergyman, 
who had not lifted his eyes from his book, and had iield 
his breath but for a moment, was proceeding : his hand 
was already stretched towards Mr Rochester, as his lips 
unclosed to ask, " Wilt thou have this woman for thy 
wedded wife ? " — when a distinct and near voice 
said : — 

" The marriage cannot go on : I declare the exist- 
ence of an impediment." 

The clergyman looked up at the speaker, and stood . 
mute ; the clerk did the same ; Mr Rochester moved 
slightly, as if an earthquake had rolled under liis feet : 
taking a firmer footing, and not turning his head or eyes, 
he said, " Proceed." 

Profound silence fell when he had uttered that word, 
with deep but low intonation. Presently Mr Wood 
said : — 

" I cannot proceed without some investigation into 
what has been asserted, and evidence of its truth or 
falsehood." 

" The ceremony is quite broken off," subjoined the 
voice behind us. " 1 am in a condition to prove my 
allegation : an insuperable impediment to this marriage 
exists." 

Mr Rochester heard, but heeded not : he stood 
stubborn and rigid : making no movement, but to 
possess himself of my hand. What a hot and 
strong grasp he had ! — and how like quarried marble 
was his pale, firm, massive front at this moment ! 
How his eye shone, still, watchful, and yet wild be- 
neath ! 

Mr Wood seemed at a loss. " What is tiie naiure 



7© JANE EYRE. 

of the impediment ? " he asked. " Perhaps it may be 
got over — explained away ? " 

" Hardly," was the answer : " I have called it in- 
superable, and I speak advisedly." 

The speaker came forwards, and leaned on the rails. 
He continued, uttering each word distinctly, calmly, 
steadily, but not loudly. 

" It simply consists in the existence of a previous 
marriage. Mr Rochester has a wife now living." 

My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as 
they had never vibrated to thunder- — my blood felt 
their subtle violence as it had never felt frost or fire : 
but I was collected, and in no danger of swooning. I 
looked at Mr Rochester : I made him look at me. 
His whole face was colourless rock : his eye was both 
spark and flint. He disavowed nothing ; he seemed as 
if he would defy all things. Without speaking ; with- 
out smiling : without seeming to recognise in me a 
human being, he only twined my waist with his arm, and 
riveted me to his side. 

" Who are you ? " he asked of the intruder. 

" My name is Briggs — a solicitor of Street, 

London." 

" And you would thrust on me a wife ? " 
" I would remind you of your lady's existence, sir ; 
which the law recognises, if you do not." 

" Favour me with an account of her — with her name, 
her parentage, her place of abode." 

" Certainly." Mr Briggs calmly took a paper from 
his pocket, and read out in a sort of official, nasal 
voice : — 

" ' I affii^m and can prove that on the 20th of Octo- 
ber, A.D., , (a date of fifteen years back) Edward 

Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield Hall, in the county 
of , and of Ferndean Manor, in shire, Eng- 
land, was married to my sister. Bertha Antoinetta 



JANE EYRE. Jl 

Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason, merchant, and of 

Antoinetta his wife, a Creole — at church, 

Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of the marriage 
will be found in the register of that church — a copy 
of it is now in my possession. Signed, Richard 
Mason.' " 

" That — if a genuine document — may prove I have 
been married, but it does not prove that the woman 
mentioned therein as my wife is still living." 

" She was living three months ago," returned the 
lawyer. 

" How do you know ? " 

" I have a witness to the fact ; whose testimony even 
you, sir, will scarcely controvert." 

" Produce him— or go to hell." 

" I will produce him first — he is on the spot : Mr 
Mason, have the goodness to step forward." 

Mr Rochester, on hearing the name, set his teeth ; 
he experienced, too, a sort of strong convulsive quiver ; 
near to him as I was, I felt the spasmodic movement of 
fuiy or despair run through his frame. The second 
stranger, who had hitherto lingered in the background, 
now drew near ; a pale face looked over the solicitor's 
shoulder — yes, it was Mason himself. Mr Rochester 
turned and glared at him. His eye, as I have often 
said, was a black eye : it had now a tawny, nay a 
bloody light in its gloom ; and his face flushed — olive 
cheek, and hueless forehead received a glow, as from 
spreading, ascending heart-fire : and he stirred, lifted 
his strong arm — he could have struck Mason — dashed 
him on the church-floor — shocked by ruthless blow the 
breath from his body — but Mason shrank away, and 
cried faintly, " Good God ! " Contempt fell cool on 
Mr Rochester — his passion died as if a blight had 
shrivelled it up : he only abked, " What have you to 
say ? " 



72 JANE EYRE. 

An inaudible reply escaped Mason's white lips. 

" The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. 
I again demand, what have you to say ? " 

" Sir — sir " — interrupted the clergyman, " do not 
forget you are in a sacred place." Then addressing 
Mason, he inquired gently, " Are you aware*, sir, 
whether or not this gentleman's wife is still living ? " 

" Courage," urged the lawyer, — " speak out." 

*' She is now living at Thornfield Hall ; " said 
Mason, in more articulate tones : " I saw her there last 
April. I am her brother." 

" At Thornfield Hall ! " ejaculated the clergyman. 
" Impossible ! I am an old resident in this neighbour- 
hood, sir, and I never heard of a Mrs Rochester at 
Thornfield Hall." 

I saw a grim smile contort Mr Rochester's lip, and 
he muttered :— 

" No — by God ! I took care that none should 
hear of it — or of her under that name." He mused — 
for ten minutes he held counsel with himself: he formed 
his resolve, and announced it : — 

*' Enough — all shall bolt out at once, like the bullet 
from the barrel. — Wood, close your book, and take off 
your surplice ; John Green (to the clerk), leave the 
church : there will be no wedding to-day : " the man 
obeyed. 

Mr Rochester continued, hardily and recklessly : 
" Bigamy is an ugly word ! — I meant, however, to be 
a bigamist : but fate has out-manceuvred me ; or Pro- 
vidence has checked me, — perhaps the last. I am little 
better than a devil at this moment ; and, as my pastor 
there would tell me, deserve no doubt the steraest 
judgments of God, — even to the quenchless fire and 
deathless worm. Gentlemen, my plan is broken up ! — 
what this lawyer and his client say is true : I have 
been married ; and the woman to whom I was married 



JANE EYRE. 73 

lives ! You say you never heard of a Mrs Rochester 
at the house up yonder, Wood : but I daresay j'^ou 
have many a time inclined your ear to gossip about the 
mysterious lunatic kept there under watch and ward. 
Some have whispered to you that she is my bastard 
half-sister : some, my cast-off mistress ; I now inform 
you that she is my wife, whom I married fifteen years 
ago,— Bertha Mason by name ; sister of this resolute 
personage, who is now, with his quivering limbs and 
white cheeks, showing you what a stout heart men may 
bear. Cheer up, Dick ! — never fear me ! — I'd almost 
as soon strike a woman as you. Bertha Mason is 
mad ; and she came of a mad family ; — idiots and 
maniacs through three generations ! Her mother, the 
Creole, was both a mad woman and a drunkard ! — as 
I found out after I had wed the daughter : for they 
were silent on family secrets before. Bertha, like a 
dutiful child, copied her parent in both points. I had 
a charming partner — pure, wise, modest : you can fancy 
I was a happy man. — I went through rich scenes ! 
Oh ! my experience has been heavenly, if you only 
knew it ! But I owe you no further explanation. 
Briggs, Wood, Mason, — I invite you all to come up 
to the house and visit Mrs Poole's patient, and my iv'ife! 
— You shall see what sort of a being I was cheated into 
espousing, and judge whether or not I had a right to 
break the compact, and seek sympathy with something 
at least human. This girl," he continued, looking at 
me, " knew no more than you, Wood, of the disgust- 
ing secret : she thought all was fair and legal ; and 
never dreamt she was going to be entrapped into a 
feigned union with a defrauded wretch, already bound 
to a bad, mad, and embruted partner ! Come all of 
you, follow ! " 

Still holding me fast, he left the church : tlie three 
gentlemen came after. At the front door of the hall 
we found the carriage. 



74 JANE EYRE. 

" Take it back to the coach-house, Jolin," said 
Mr Rochester, coolly ; " it will not be wanted 
to-day." 

At our entrance, Mrs Fairfax, Ad^le, Sophie, Leah, 
advanced to meet and greet us. 

" To the right about — every soul ! " cried the master : 
" away with your congratulations ! Who wants them ? 
— Not I ! — they are hfteen years too late ! " 

He passed on and ascended the stairs, still holding 
my hand, and still beckoning the gentlemen to follow 
him ; which they did. We mounted the first staircase, 
passed up the gallery, proceeded to the third story : the 
low, black door, opened by Mr Rochester's master 
key, admitted us to the tapestried room, with its great 
bed, and its pictorial cabinet. 

" You know this place. Mason," said our guide ; 
"she bit and stabbed you here." 

He lifted the hangings from the wall, uncovering the 
second door : this, too, he opened. In a room without 
a window, there burnt a fire, guarded by a high and 
strong fender, and a lamp suspended from the ceiling by 
a chain. Grace Poole bent over the fire, apparently 
cooking something in a saucepan. In the deep shade, 
at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards 
and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human 
being, one could not, at first sight, tell : it grovelled, 
seemingly, on all fours ; it snatched and growled like 
some strange wild animal : but it was covered with 
clothing ; and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as 
a mane, hid its head and face. 

" Good-morrow, Mrs Poole ! " said Mr Rochester. 
" How are you ? and how is your charge to-day ? " 

" We're tolerable, sir, I thank you," replied Grace, 
lifting the boiling mess carefully on to the hob : 
" rather snappish, but not 'rageous." 

A fierce cry seemed to give the lie to her favourable 



JANE EYRE. 75 

report : the clothed hyena rose up, and stood tall on Its 
hind feet. 

" Ah, sir, she sees you ! " exclaimed Grace : " you'd 
better not stay." 

" Only a few moments, Grace : you must allow me 
a few moments." 

" Take care then, sir! — for God's sake, take care ! " 

The maniac bellowed : she parted her shaggy locks 
from her visage, and gazed wildly at her visitors. I 
recognised well that puq^le face, — those bloated features. 
Mrs Poole advanced. 

" Keep out of the v%-ay," said Mr Rochester, thrust- 
ing her aside : " she has no knife now, I suppose ? and 
I'm on my guard." 

" One never knows what she has, sir : she is so cun- 
ning : it is not in mortal discretion to fathom her 
craft." 

" We had better leave her," whispered Mason. 

" Go to the devil ! " was his brother-in-law's re- 
commendation. 

" Ware ! " cried Grace. The three gentlemen 
retreated simultaneously. Mr Rochester flung me 
behind him : the lunatic sprang and grappled his throat 
viciously, and laid her teeth to his cheek : they 
struggled. She was a big woman, in stature almost 
equalling her husband, and corpulent besides : she 
showed virile force in the contest — more than once she 
almost throttled him, athletic as he was. He could 
have settled her with a well -planted blow ; but he 
would not strike : he would only wrestle. At last he 
mastered her arms ; Grace Poole gave him a cord, and 
he pinioned them behind her : with more rope, which 
was at hand, he bound her to a chair. The operation 
was performed amidst the fiercest yells, and the most 
convulsive plunges. Mr Rochester then turned to the 
spectators : he looked at them with a smile both acrid 
and desolate. 



76 JANE EYRE. 

" That is my ivife" said he. " Such is the sole 
conjugal embrace I am ever to know — such are the 
endearments which are to solace my leisure hours ! 
And this is what I wished to have " (laying his hand 
on my shoulder j: "this young girl, who stands so 
grave and quiet at the mouth of hell, looking collectedly 
at the gambols of a demon. I wanted her just as a 
change after that fierce ragout. Wood and Briggs, 
look at the difference ! Compare these clear eyes with 
the red balls yonder — this face with that mask — this 
form with that bulk ; then judge me, priest of the 
gospel and man of the law, and remember, with what 
judgment ye judge ye shall be judged ! Off with you 
now. I must shut up my prize." 

We all withdrew. Mr Rochester stayed a moment 
behind us, to give some further order to Grace Poole. 
The solicitor addressed me as he descended the stair. 

" You, madam," said he, " are cleared from all 
blame : your uncle will be glad to hear it — if, indeed, 
he should be still living — when Mr Mason returns to 
Madeira." 

" My uncle ! What of him ? Do you know him ? " 

" Mr Mason does : Mr Eyre has been the Funchal 
correspondent of his house for some years. When your 
uncle received your letter intimating the contemplated 
union between yourself and Mr Rochester, Mr Mason, 
who was staying at Madeira to recniit his health, on 
his way back to Jamaica, happened to be with him. 
Mr Eyre mentioned the intelligence ; for he knew that 
my client here was acquainted with a gentleman of the 
name of Rochester. Mr Mason, astonished and dis- 
tressed as you may suppose, revealed the real state of 
matters. Your uncle, I am sorry to say, is now on a 
sick bed ; from which, considering the nature of his 
disease- — decline — and the stage it has reached, it is un- 
likely he will ever rise. He could not then hasten to 



JANE EYRE. 77 

England himself, to extricate you from the snare into 
which you had fallen, but he implored Mr Mason to 
lose no time in taking steps to prevent the false marriage. 
He referred him to me for assistance. I used all 
despatch, and am thankful I was not too late : as you, 
doubtless, must be also. Were I not morally certain 
that your uncle will be dead ere you reach Madeira, I 
would advise you to accompany Mr Mason back : but 
as it is, I think you had better remain in England till 
you can hear further, either from or of Mr Eyre. 
Have we anything else to stay for ? " he inquired of 
Mr Mason. 

" No, no — let us be gone," was the anxious reply ; 
and without waiting to take leave of Mr Rochester, 
they made their exit at the hall door. The clergyman 
stayed to exchange a few sentences, either of admoni- 
tion or reproof, with his haughty parisliioner ; this duty 
done, he too departed. 

I heard him go as I stood at the half open door of 
my own room, to which I had now withdrawn. The 
house cleared, I shut myself in, fastened the bolt that 
none might intrude, and proceeded — not to weep, not 
to mourn, I was yet too calm for that, but — mechani- 
cally to take off the wedding dress, and replace it by 
the stuff gown I had worn yesterday, as I thought for 
the last time. I then sat down : I felt weak and tired. 
I leaned my arms on a table, and my head dropped on 
them. And now I thought : till now I had only 
heard, seen, moved — followed up and down where I 
was led or dragged — watched event rush on event, dis- 
closui'e open beyond disclosure : but noiv, I thought. 

The morning had been a quiet morning enough — all 
except the brief scene with the lunatic : the transaction 
in the church had not been noisy ; there was no ex- 
plosion of passion, no loud altercation, no dispute, no 
defiance or challenge, no tears, no sobs : a few words 



78 JANK EYRE. 

had been spoken, a calmly pronounced objection to the 
marriage made ; some stern short questions put by Mr 
Rochester ; answers, explanations given, evidence ad- 
duced ; an open admission of" the truth had been uttered 
by my master ; then the Jiving proof had been seen : 
the intruders were gone, and all was over. 

I was in my own room as usual — ^just myself, with- 
out obvious change : nothing had smitten me, or scathed 
me, or maimed me. And yet where was the Jane 
Eyre of yesterday ? — where was her life i" — where were 
her prospects ? 

Jane Eyre, who had been an ardent, expectant 
woman — almost a bride — was a cold, solitary girl again : 
her life was pale, her prospects were desolate. A 
Christmas frost had come at midsummer ; a white 
December storm had whirled over June ; ice glazed 
the ripe apples, drifts cmshed the blowing roses ; on 
hay-field and corn-field lay a frozen shroud : lanes 
which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were 
pathless with untrodden snow ; and the woods which 
twelve hours since waved leafy and fragrant as groves 
between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild and white 
as pine-forests in wintry Norway. My hopes were all 
dead — struck with a subtle doom, such as, in one night, 
fell on all the first-born in the land of Egypt. I looked 
on my cherished wishes, yesterday so blooming and 
glowing ; they lay stark, chill, livid corpses, that could 
never revive. I looked at my love : that feeling which 
was my master's — which he had created ; it shivered 
in my heart, like a suifering child in a cold cradle ; 
sickness and anguish had seized it ; it could not seek 
Mr Rochester's arms — it could not derive warmth from 
his breast. Oh, never more could it turn to him ; for 
faith was blighted — confidence destroyed ! Mr Ro- 
chester was not to me what he had been ; for he was 
not what I had thought him. I would not asciibe vice 



JANE EYRE. 79 

to him ; I would not say he had betrayed me : but tlie 
attribute of stainless truth was gone from his idea ; and 
from his presence I must go : that I perceived well. 
When — how — whither, I could not yet discern : but 
he himself, I doubted not, would hurry me from 
Thornfield. Real affection, it seemed, he could not 
have for me ; it had been only fitful passion , that was 
balked ; he would want me no more. I should fear 
even to cross his path now : my view must be hateful 
to him. Oh, how blind had been my eyes ! How 
weak my conduct ! 

My eyes were covered and closed : eddying darkness 
seemed to swim round me, and reflection came in as 
black and confused a flow. Self-abandoned, relaxed, 
and effortless, I seemed to have laid me down in the 
dried-up bed of a great river ; I heard a flood loosened 
in remote mountains, and felt the torrent come : to rise 
I had no will, to flee I had no strength. I lay faint ; 
longing to be dead. One idea only still throbbed life- 
like within me — a remembrance of God : it begot an 
unuttered prayer: these words went wandering up and 
down in my rayless mind, as something that should be 
whispered ; but no energy was found to express them : — 

" Be not far from me, for trouble is near : there is 
none to help." 

It was near ; and as I had lifted no petidon to 
Heaven to avert it — as I had neither joined my hands, 
nor bent my knees, nor moved my lips — it came : in 
full, heavy swing the torrent poured over me. The 
whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my 
hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed fu" and 
mighty above me in one sullen mass. l"'hat 
cannot be described : in truth, " the watr 
soul ; I sank in deep mire : I felt n<~ 
into deep waters ; the floods o\vr^ 



So JANE EYRE. 



Chapter %%tij. 

SOME time in the afternoon I raised my head, and 
looking round and seeing the western sun gilding 
the sign of its decline on the wall, I asked, 
" What am I to do ? " 

But the answer my mind gave — " Leave Thornfield 
at once" — was so prompt, so dread, that I stopped my 
ears : I said, I could not bear such words now. " That 
I am not Edward Rochester's bride is the least part of 
my woe," I alleged : *' that I have wakened out of 
most glorious dreams, and found them all void and 
vain, is a horror I could bear and master ; but that I 
must leave him decidedly, instantly, entirely, is intoler- 
able. I cannot do it." 

But, then, a voice within me averred that I could do 
it ; and foretold that I should do it. I wrestled with 
my own resolution : I wanted to be weak that I might 
avoid the awful passage of further suffering I saw laid 
out for me ; and conscience, turned tyrant, held passion 
by the throat, told her tauntingly, she had yet but 
dipped her dainty foot in the slough, and swore that 
with that arm of iron, he would thrust her down to 
unsounded depths of agony. 

" Let me be torn away, then ! " I cried. " Let 
another help me ! " 

" No ; you shall tear yourself away, none shall help 
you : you shall, yourself, pluck out your right eye : 
yourself cut off your right hand : your heart shall be 
the '"*-im ; and you, the priest, to transfix it." 

■D suddenly, terror-struck at the solitude 

^s a judge haunted, — at the silence which 

''°d. My head swam as I stood erect : 

"o sickening from excitement and 

r drink had passed my lips 



JANE EYRE. 8l 

that day, for I had taken no breakfast. And, with a 
strange pang, I now reflected that, long as I had been 
shut up here, no message had been sent to ask how I 
was, or to invite me to come down : not even little 
Adele had tapped at the door ; not even Mrs Fairfax 
had sought me. " Friends always forget those whom 
fortune forsakes," I murmured, as I undrew the bolt 
and passed out. I stumbled over an obstacle : my head 
was still dizzy, rny sight was dim, and my limbs were 
feeble. I could not soon recover myself. I fell, but 
not on to the ground : an out-stretched arm caught me ; 
I looked up — I was supported by Mr Rochester, who 
sat in a chair across my chamber threshold. 

" You have come out at last," he said. " Well, I 
have been waiting for you long, and listening : yet not 
one movement have I heard, nor one sob : five minutes 
more of that death-like hush, and I should have forced 
the lock like a burglar. So, you shun me ? — you shut 
yourself up and grieve alone ! I would rather you had. 
come and upbraided me with vehemence. You are 
passionate : I expected a scene of some kind. I was 
prepared for the hot rain of tears ; only I wanted them 
to be shed on my breast : now a senseless floor has re- 
ceived them, or your drenched handkerchief. But I 
err : you have not wept at all ! I see a white cheek 
and a faded eye, but no trace of tears. I suppose, then, 
your heart has been weeping blood ? 

" Well, Jane ; not a word of reproach ? Nothing 
bitter — nothing poignant ? Nothing to cut a feeling or 
sting a passion ? You sit quietly where I have placed 
you, and regard me with a weary, passive look. 

" Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. If the 
man who had but one little ewe lamb that was dear to 
him as a daughter, that ate of his bread and drank of 
his cup, and lay in his bosom, had by some mistake 
slaughtered it at the shambles, he would not have rued 

II. F 



82 JANE EYRE. 

his bloody blunder more than I now rue mine. Will you 
ever forgive me ? " 

Reader ! — I forgave him at the moment, and on the 
spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such 
true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner ; 
and, besides, there was such unchanged love in his 
whole look and mien — I forgave him all : yet not in 
words, not outwardly ; only at my heart's core. 

" You know I am a scoundrel, Jane ? " ere long he 
inquired wistfully — wondering, I suppose, at my con- 
tinued silence and tameness : the result rather of weak- 
ness than of will. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Then tell me so roundly and sharply — don't spare 
me. 

" I cannot : I am tired and sick. I want some 
water." He heaved a sort of shuddering sigh, and 
taking me in his arms, carried me downstairs. At 
first I did not know to what room he had borne me ; 
all was cloudy to my glazed sight : presently I felt the 
reviving warmth of a fire ; for, summer as it was, I 
had become icy cold in my chamber. He put wine to 
my lips ; I tasted it and revived ; then I ate something 
he offered me, and was soon myself. I was in the 
library — sitting in his chair — he was quite near. " If 
I could go out of life now, without too shai^p a pang, it 
would be well for me," I thought ; " then I should 
not have to make the effort of cracking my heart- 
strings in rending them from among Mr Rochester's. I 
must leave him, it appears. I do not want to leave 
him — I cannot leave him." 

*' How are you now, Jane ? " 

" Much better, sir : I shall be well soon." 

" Taste the wine again, Jane." 

I obeyed him ; then he put the glass on the table, 
stood before me, and looked at me attentively. Sud- 



JANE EYRE. 83 

denly he turned away, with an inarticulate exclama- 
tion, full of passionate emotion of some kind ; he 
walked fast through the room and came back : he 
stooped towards me as if to kiss me ; but I remembered 
caresses were now forbidden. I turned my face away, 
and put his aside. 

"What! — how is this?" he exclaimed hastily, 
" Oh, I know ! you won't kiss the husband of Bertha 
Mason ? You consider my arms filled, and my em- 
braces appropriated ? " 

" At any rate, there is neither room nor claim for me, 
sir." 

" Why, Jane ? I will spare you the trouble of much 
talking : I will answer for you — because I have a wife 
already, you would reply. — I guess rightly ? " 

" Yes." 

" If you think so, you must have a strange opinion of 
me ; you must regard me as a plotting profligate — a 
base and low rake who has been simulating dis- 
interested love in order to draw you into a snare 
deliberately laid, and strip you of honour, and rob you 
of self-respect. What do you say to that ? I see you 
can say nothing : in the first place, you are faint, still, 
and have enough to do to draw your breath ; in the 
second place, you cannot yet accustom yourself to 
accuse and revile me ; and, besides, the flood-gates of 
tears are opened, and they would rush out if you spoke 
much ; and you have no desire to expostulate, to up- 
braid, to make a scene : you are thinking how to act — 
talking, you consider, is of no use. I know you — I am 
on my guard." 

" Sir, I do not wish to act against you," I said ; and 
ray unsteady voice warned me to curtail my sentence. 

" Not in your sense of the word but in mine, you are 
scheming to destroy me. You have as good as said that I 
am a married man — as a married man you will shun me, 



84 JANE EYRE. 

keep out of my way : just now you have refused to kiss 
me. You intend to make yourself a complete stranger 
to me ; to live under this roof only as Ad^le's gover- 
ness ; if ever I say a friendly word to you ; if ever a 
friendly feeling inclines you again to me, you will say, 
— ' That man had nearly made me his mistress : I must 
be ice and rock to him ; ' and ice and rock you will 
accordingly become." 

I cleared and steadied my voice to reply : " All is 
changed about me, sir ; I must change too — there is no 
doubt of that: and to avoid fluctuations of feeling, and 
continual combats with recollections and associations, 
there is only one way — Adele must have a new 
governess, sir." 

" Oh, Adele will go to school — I have settled that 
already ; nor do I mean to torment you with the 
hideous associations and recollections of Thornfield 
Hall — this accursed place — this tent of Achan — this 
insolent vault, offering the ghastliness of living death to 
the light of the open sky — this narrow stone hell, with 
its one real fiend, worse than a legion of such as we 
imagine. — Jane, you shall not stay here, nor will I. I 
was wrong ever to bring you to Thornfield Hall, 
knowing as I did how it was haunted. I charged 
them to conceal from you, before I ever saw you, all 
knowledge of the curse of the place ; merely because I 
feared Adele never would have a governess to stay if 
she knew with what inmate she was housed, and my 
plans would not permit me to remove the maniac else- 
where — though I possess an old house, Ferndean 
Manor, even more retired and hidden than this, where 
I could have lodged her safely enough, had not a 
scruple about the unhealthiness of the situation, in the 
heart of a wood, made my conscience recoil from the 
arrangement. Probably those damp walls would soon 
have eased me of her charge : but to each villain his 



JANE EYRE. 85 

own vice ; and mine is not a tendency to indirect 
assassination, even of" what I most hate. 

" Concealing the mad-woman's neighbourhood, from 
you, however, was something like covering a child 
with a cloak, and laying it down near a upas-tree : that 
demon's vicinage is poisoned, and always was. But 
I'll shut up Thornfield Hall : I'll nail up the front 
door, and board the lower windows ; I'll give Mrs 
Poole two hundred a year to live here with my ivife, as 
you term that fearful hag : Grace will do much for 
money, and she shall have her son, the keeper at 
Grimsby Retreat, to bear her company and be at hand 
to give her aid, in the paroxysms, when my luife is 
prompted by her familiar to bum people in tlieir beds at 
night, to stab them, to bite their flesh from their bones, 
and so on " 

" Sir," I interrupted him, " you are inexorable for 
that unfortunate lady ; you speak of her with hate — 
with vindictive antipathy. It is cruel — she cannot 
help being mad." 

"Jane, my little darling (so I will call you, for so 
you are), you don't know what you are talking about; 
you misjudge me again : it is not because she is mad I 
hate her. If you were mad, do you think I should 
hate you ? " 

" I do indeed, sir." 

"Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing 
about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which 
I am capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to 
me as my own : in pain and sickness it would still be 
dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, 
it would be my treasure still : if you raved, my arms 
should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat — your 
grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me : if 
you flew at me as wildly as that woman did this morn- 
ing, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as 



86 JANE EYRE. 

fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink 
from you with disgust as I did from her : in your quiet 
moments you should have no watcher and no nurse but 
me ; and I could hang over you with untiring tender- 
ness, though you gave me no smile in return ; and 
never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had 
no longer a ray of recognition for me. — But why do I 
follow that train of ideas ? I was talking of removing 
you from Thornfield. All, you know, is prepared for 
prompt departure : to-morrow you shall go. I only 
ask you to endure one more night under this roof, 
Jane : and then, farewell to its miseries and terrors for 
ever ! I have a place to repair to, which will be a 
secure sanctuary from hateful reminiscences, from 
unwelcome intrusion — even from falsehood and 
slander." 

" And take Adele with you, sir," I interrupted ; 
"she will be a companion for you." 

" What do you mean, Jane ? I told you I would 
send Adele to school : and what do I want with a 
child for a companion ? and not my own child, — a 
French dancer's bastard. Why do you importune me 
about her ? I say, why do you assign Adele to me for 
a companion ? " 

" You spoke of a retirement, sir ; and retirement and 
solitude are dull : too dull for you." 

" Solitude ! solitude ! " he reiterated, with irritation. 
" I see I must come to an explanation. I don't know 
what sphynx-like expression is forming in your coun- 
tenance. Tou are to share my solitude. Do you 
understand \ " 

I shook my head : it required a degree ot courage, 
excited as he was becoming, even to risk that mute sign 
of dissent. He had been walking fast about the room, 
and he stopped, as if suddenly rooted to one spot. He 
looked at me long and hard : I turned my eyes from 



JANE EYRE. 87 

him, fixed them on the fire, and tried to assume and 
maintain a quiet, collected aspect. 

" Now for the hitch in Jane's character," he said at 
last, speaking more calmly than from his look I had 
expected him to speak. " The reel of silk has run 
smoothly enough so far ; but I always knew there 
would come a knot and a puzzle : here it is. Now 
for vexation, and exasperation, and endless trouble ! 
By God 1 I long to exert a fraction of Samson's 
strength, and break the entanglement like tow ! " 

He recommenced his walk : but soon again stopped, 
and this time just before me. 

"Jane! will you hear reason ?" (he stooped and 
approached his lips to my ear) " because, if you won't, 
I'll try violence." His voice was hoarse ; his look 
that of a man who is just about to burst an insufferable 
bond and plunge headlong into wild licence. I saw 
that in another moment, and with one impetus of frenzy 
more, I should be able to do nothing with him. The 
present — the passing second of time — was all I had in 
which to control and restrain him : a movement of 
repulsion, flight, fear, would have sealed my doom, — 
and his. But I was not afraid : not in the least. I 
felt an inward power ; a sense of influence, which sup- 
ported me. The crisis was perilous ; but not without 
its charm : such as the Indian, perhaps, feels when he 
slips over the rapid in his canoe. I took hold of his 
clenched hand ; loosened the contorted fingers ; and 
said to him, soothingly, — 

" Sit down ; I'll Uilk to you as long as you like, and 
hear all you have to say, whether reasonable or un- 
reasonable." 

He sat down : but he did not get leave to speak 
directly. I had been struggling with tears for some 
time : I had taken great pains to repress them, because 
I knew he would not like to see me weep. Now, 



88 JANE EYRE. 

however, I considered it well to let them flow as freely 
and as long as they liked. If the flood annoyed him, 
so much the better. So I gave way and cried heartily. 

Soon I heard liini earnestly entreating me to be 
composed. I said I could not while he was in such a 
passion. 

" But I am not angry, Jane : I only love you too 
well ; and you had steeled your little pale face with 
such a resolute, frozen look, I could not endure it. 
Hush, now, and wipe your eyes." 

His softened voice announced that he v/as subdued ; 
so I, in my turn, became calm. Now he made an 
effort to rest his head on my shoulder : but I would 
not permit it. Then he would draw me to him : no. 

" Jane ! Jane ! " he said — in such an accent of bitter 
sadness it thrilled along every nerve I had ; " you don't 
love me, then ? It was only my station, and the rank 
of my wife, that you valued ? Now that you think me 
disqualified to become your husband, you recoil from 
my touch as if I were some toad or ape." 

These words cut me : yet what could I do or say ? I 
ought probably to have done or said nothing : but I 
was so tortured by a sense of remorse at thus hurting 
his feelings, I could not control the wish to drop balm 
where I had wounded. 

" I do love you," I said, " more than ever : but I 
must not show or indulge the feeling : and this is the 
last time I must express it." 

" The last time, Jane ! What ! do you think you 
can live with me, and see me daily, and yet, if you still 
love me, be always cold and distant ? " 

" No, sir ; that I am certain I could not ; and 
therefore I see there is but one way : but you will be 
furious if I mention it." 

" Oh, mention it ! If I storm, you have the art of 
weeping." 



JANE EYRE. 89 

" Mr Rochester, I must leave you." 

" For how long, Jane ? For a few minutes, while 
you smooth your hair — which is somewhat dishevelled ; 
and bathe your face — which looks feverish ? " 

" I must leave Adele and Thornfield. I must part 
with you for my whole life : I must begin a new exist- 
ence amongst strange faces and strange scenes." 

" Of course : I told you you should. I pass over 
the madness about parting from me. You mean you 
must become a part of me. As to the new existence, 
it is all right : you shall yet be my wife : I am not 
married. You shall be Mrs Rochester — both virtually 
and nominally. I shall keep only to you so long as 
you and I Hve. You shall go to a place I have 
in the south of France : a white-washed villa on the 
shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall live a 
happy, and guarded, and most innocent life. Never 
fear that I wish to lure you into error — to make you 
my mistress. Why do you shake your head ? Jane, 
you must be reasonable ; or in truth I shall again 
become frantic.'* 

His voice and hand quivered : his large nostrils 
dilated : his eye blazed : still I dared to speak : — 

" Sir, your wife is living : that is a fact acknowledged 
this morning by yourself. If I lived with you as you 
desire, I should then be your mistress : to say other- 
wise is sophistical — is false." 

" Jane, I am not a gentle-tempered man — you 
forget that : I am not long-enduring ; I am not cool and 
dispassionate. Out of pity to me and yourself, put your 
finger on my pulse, feel how it throbs, and — beware ! " 

He bared his wrist, and offered it to me : the blood 
was forsaking his cheek and lips, they were growing 
livid ; I was distressed on all hands. To agitate hira 
thus deeply, by a resistance he so abhorred, was cruel : 
to yield was out of the question. I did what human 



9© JANE EYRE. 

beings do instinctively when they are driven to utter ex- 
tremity — looked for aid to one higher than man : the 
words " God help me ! " burst involuntarily from my lips. 

" I am a fool ! " cried Mr Rochester, suddenly. 
" I keep telling her I am not married, and do not ex- 
plain to her wliy. I forget she knows nothing of the 
character of that woman, or of the circumstances at- 
tending my infernal union with her. Oh, I am certain 
Jane will agree with me in opinion, when she knows 
all that I know ! Just put your hand in mine, Janet — 
that I may have the evidence of touch as well as sight, 
to prove you are near me— and I will in a few words 
show you the real state of the case. Can you listen to 
me?" 

" Yes, sir ; for hours if you will." 

** I ask only minutes. Jane, did you ever hear, or 
know that I was not the eldest son of my house : that 
I had once a brother older than I ?" 

" I remember Mrs Fairfax told me so once." 

" And did you ever hear that my father was an 
avaricious, grasping man ? " 

" I have understood something to that effect." 

" Well, Jane, being so, it was his resolution to keep 
the property together ; he could not bear the idea of 
dividing his estate and leaving me a fair portion : all, 
he resolved, should go to my brother, Rowland. Yet 
as little could he endure that a son of his should be a 
poor man, I must be provided for by a wealthy mar- 
riage. He sought me a partner betimes. Mr Mason, 
a West India planter and merchant, was his old ac- 
quaintance. He was certain his possessions were real 
and vast : he made inquiries. Mr Mason, he found, 
had a son and daughter ; and he learned from him that 
he could and would give the latter a fortune of thirty 
thousand pounds : that sufficed. When I left college, 
I was sent out to Jamaica, to espouse a bride already 



JANE EYRE. 9I 

courted for me. My father said nothing about her 
money ; but he told me Miss Mason was the boast of 
Spanish Town for her beauty : and tliis was no lie. 1 
found her a fine woman, in the style of Blanche Ingram ; 
tall, dark, majestic. Her family wished to secure me 
because I was of a good race ; and so did she. They 
showed her to me in parties, splendidly dressed. I 
seldom saw her alone, and had very little private con- 
versation with her. She flattered me, and lavishly dis- 
played for my pleasure her charms and accomplishments. 
All the men in her circle seemed to admire her and 
envy me. I was dazzled, stimulated : my senses were 
excited ; and being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, I 
thought I loved her. There is no folly so besotted 
that the idiotic rivalries of society, the prurience, the 
rashness, the blindness of youth, will not hurry a man 
to its commission. Her relatives encouraged me ; com- 
petitors piqued me ; she allured me : a marriage was 
achieved almost before I knew where I was. Oh, I 
have no respect for myself when I think of that act ! — 
an agony of inward contempt masters me. I never 
loved, I never esteemed, I did not even know her. I 
was not sure of the existence of one virtue in her 
nature : I had marked neither modesty, nor benevo- 
lence, nor candour, nor refinement in her mind or man- 
ners- — and, I married her : — gross, grovelling, mole- 
eyed blockhead that I was ! With less sin I might 
have — but let me remember to whom I am speaking. 

" My bride's mother I had never seen : I understood 
she was dead. The honey-moon over, I learned my 
mistake; she was only mad, and shut up in a lunatic 
asylum. There was a younger brother, too ; a complete 
dumb idiot. The elder one, whom you have seen (and 
whom I cannot hate, whilst I abhor all his kindred, 
because he has some grains of affection in his feeble 
mind ; shown in the continued interest he takes in his 



92 JANE EYRE. 

wretched sister and also in a dog-like attachment he 
once bore me), will probably be in the same state one 
day. My father and my brother Rowland, knew all 
this ; but they thought only of the thirty thousand 
pounds, and joined in the plot against me. 

These were vile discoveries ; but, except for the trea- 
chery of concealment, I should have made them no 
subject of reproach to my wife : even when I found 
her nature wholly alien to mine ; her tastes obnoxious 
to me ; her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and 
singularly incapable of being led to anything higher, 
expanded to anything larger — when I found that I 
could not pass a single evening nor even a single hour of 
the day with her in comfort ; that kindly conversation 
could not be sustained between us, because whatever 
topic I started, immediately received from her a turn at 
once coarse and trite, perverse and imbecile — when I 
perceived that I should never have a quiet or settled 
household, because no servant would bear the continued 
outbreaks of her violent and unreasonable temper, or 
the vexations of her absurd, contradictory, exacting 
orders — even then I restrained myself: I eschewed up- 
braiding, I curtailed remonstrance ; I tried to devour 
my repentance and disgust in secret ; I repressed the 
deep antipathy I felt. 

" Jane, I will not trouble you with abominable de- 
tails : some strong words shall express what I have 
to say. I lived with that woman upstairs four years, 
and before that time she had tried me indeed : her 
character ripened and developed with frightful rapidity ; 
her vices sprang up fast and rank : they were so strong, 
only cruelty could check them ; and I would not use 
cruelty. What a pigmy intellect she had — and what 
giant propensities ! How fearful were the curses those 
propensities entiiiled on me 1 Bertha Mason, — the true 
daughter of an infamous mother, — dragged me through 



JANE EYRE. 93 

all the hideous and degrading agonies which must attend 
a man boand to a wife at once intemperate and un- 
chaste. 

" My brother in the interval was dead ; and at the 
end of the four years my father died too. I was rich 
enough now — yet poor to hideous indigence : a nature 
the most gross, impure, depraved I ever saw, was asso- 
ciated with mine, and called by the law and by society 
a part of me. And I could not rid myself of it by any 
legal proceedings : for the doctors now discovered that 
my wife was mad — her excesses had prematurely de- 
veloped the germs of insanity : — Jane, you don't like 
my narrative ; you look almost sick — shall I defer the 
rest to another day ? " 

'* No, sir, finish it now : I pity you — I do earnestly 
pity you." 

*' Pity, Jane, from some people is a noxious and in- 
sulting sort of tribute, which one is justified in hurling 
back in the teeth of those who otfer it ; but that is a 
sort of pity native to callous, selfish hearts : it is a 
hybrid, egotistical pain at hearing of woes, crossed with 
ignorant contempt for those who have endured them. 
But that is not your pity, Jane : it is not the feeling of 
which your whole face is full at this moment — with 
which your eyes are now almost overflowing — with 
which your heart is heaving — with which your hand is 
trembling in mine. Your pity, my darling, is the suf- 
fering mother ot^ love : its anguish is the very natal 
pang of the divine passion. I accept it, Jane ; let the 
daughter have free advent — my arms wait to receive 
her." 

" Now, sir, proceed : what did you do when you 
found she was mad ? " 

" Jane — I approached the verge of despair : a rem- 
nant of selt-respcct was all that intervened between me 
and the gulf. In the eyes of the world, I was doubt- 



94 JANE EYRE. 

less covered with grimy dishonour : but I resolved to 
be clean in my own sight — and to the last I repudiated 
the contamination of her crimes, and wrenched myself 
from connection with her mental defects. Still, society 
associated my name and person with hers ; I yet saw 
her and heard her daily : something of her breath 
(faugh!) mixed with the air I breathed; and, besides, 
I remembered I had once been her husband — that re- 
collection was then, and is now, inexpressibly odious to 
me ; moreover, I knew that while she lived I could 
never be the husband of another and better wife ; and, 
though five years my senior (her family and her father 
had lied to me even in the particular of her age), she was 
likely to live as long as I, being as robust in frame as 
she was infirm in mind. Thus, at the age of twenty- 
six, I was hopeless. 

" One night I had been awakened by her yells — 
(since the medical men had pronounced her mad, she 
had of course been shut up) — it was a fiery West 
Indian night ; one of the description that frequently 
precedes the hurricanes of those climates ; being unable 
to sleep in bed, I got up and opened the window. 
The ail was like sulphur-steams — I could find no re- 
freshment anywhere. Mosquitoes came buzzing in and 
hummed sullenly round the room ; the sea, which I 
could hear from thence, rumbled dull like an earthquake 
— black clouds were casting up over it ; the moon was 
setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon- 
ball — she threw her last bloody glance over a world 
quivering with the ferment of tempest. I was physic- 
ally influenced by the atmosphere and scene, and my 
ears were filled with the curses the maniac still shrieked 
out ; wherein she momentarily mingled my name with 
such a tone of demon-hate, with such language ! — no 
professed harlot ever had a fouler vocabulary than she : 
though two rooms off, I heard every word — the thin 



JANE EYRE. 95 

partitions of the West India house opposing but slight 
obstruction to her wolfish cries. 

" ' This life,' said I at last, ' is hell ! this is the air 
— those are the sounds of the bottomless pit ! I have 
a right to deliver myself from it if I can. The suffer- 
ings of this mortal state will leave me with the heavy 
flesh that now cumbers my soul. Of the fanatic's 
burning eternity I have no fear : there is not a future 
state worse than this present one — let me break away, 
and go home to God ! ' 

" I said this whilst I knelt down at, and unlocked a 
trunk which contained a brace of loaded pistols : I 
meant to shoot myself. I only entertained the inten- 
tion for a moment ; for, not being insane, the crisis of 
exquisite and unalloyed despair which had originated 
the wish and design of self-destruction, was past in a 
second. 

" A wind fresh from Europe blew over the ocean 
and rushed through the open casement : the storm 
broke, streamed, thundered, blazed, and the air grew 
pure. I then framed and fixed a resolution. While I 
walked under the dripping orange-trees of my wet 
garden, and amongst its drenched pomegianates and 
pine-apples, and while the refulgent dawn of the tropics 
kindled round me— I reasoned thus, Jane :— and now 
listen ; for it was true Wisdom that consoled me in that 
hour, and showed me the right path to follow. 

" The sweet wind from Europe was still whispering 
in the refreshed leaves, and the Atlantic was thundering 
in glorious liberty ; my heart, dried up and scorched for 
a long time, swelled to the tone, and filled with living 
blood— my being longed for renewal — my soul thirsted 
for a pure draught. I saw Hope revive — and felt Re- 
generation possible. From a flowery arch at the bottom 
of my garden I gazed over the sea — bluer than the sky : 
the old world was beyond ; clear prospects opened 
thus : — 



<)6 JANE EYRE. 

" ' Go,' said Hope, ' and live again in Europe : 
there it is not known what a sullied name you bear, nor 
what a filthy burden is bound to you. You may take 
the maniac with you to England ; confine her witli due 
attendance and precautions at Thornfield : then travel 
yourself to what clime you will, and form what new tie 
you like. That woman, who has so abused your long- 
suffering — so sullied your name ; so outraged your 
honour ; so blighted your youth — is not your wife ; 
nor are you her husband. See that she is cared for as 
her condition demands, and you have done all that God 
and Humanity require of you. Let her identity, her 
connection with yourself, be buried in oblivion : you 
are bound to impart them to no living being. Place 
her in safety and comfort : shelter her degradation with 
secrecy, and leave her.' 

" I acted precisely on this suggestion. My father 
and brother had not made my marriage known to their 
acquaintance ; because, in the very first letter I wrote 
to apprise them of the union — having already begun to 
experience extreme disgust of its consequences ; and from 
the family character and constitution, seeing a hideous 
future opening to me — I added an urgent charge to keep 
it secret : and very soon, the infamous conduct of the 
wife my father had selected for me, was such as to 
make him blush to own her as his daughter-in-law. 
Far from desiring to publish the connection, he became 
as anxious to conceal it as myself. 

" To England, then, I conveyed her ; a fearful 
voyage I had with such a monster in the vessel. Glad 
was I when I at last got her to Thornfield, and saw 
her safely lodged in that third story room, of whose 
secret inner cabinet she has now for ten years made a 
wild beast's den — a goblin's cell. I had some trouble in 
finding an attendant for her : as it was necessary to select 
one on whose fidelity dependence could be placed ; for 



JANE EYRE. 

her ravings would inevitably betray my seci 
she had lucid intervals of days — sometime, 
which she filled up with abuse of me. At las 
Grace Poole, from the Grimsby Retreat, fc. 
the surgeon, Carter (who dressed Mason's wounc 
night he was stabbed and worried), are the only t\ 
have ever admitted to my confidence. Mrs Fain 
may indeed have suspected something ; but she couk 
have gained no precise knowledge as to facts. Grace 
has, on the whole, proved a good keeper ; though, owing 
partly to a fault of her own, of which it appears nothing 
can cure her, and which is incident to her harassing 
profession, her vigilance has been more than once lulled 
and baiBed, The lunatic is both cunning and malig- 
nant ; she has never failed to take advantage of her 
guardian's temporary lapses ; once to secrete the knife 
with which she stabbed her brother, and twice to 
possess herself of the key of her cell, and issue there- 
from in the night-time. On the first of these occa- 
sions, she perpetrated the attempt to burn me in my 
bed ; on the second she paid that ghastly visit to you. 
I thank Providence, who watched over you, that she 
then spent her fury on your wedding apparel ; which 
perhaps brought back vague reminiscences of her own 
bridal days : but on what might have happened, I can- 
not endure to reflect. When I think of the thing 
which flew at my throat this morning, hanging its black 
and scarlet visage over the nest of my dove, my blood 
curdles " 

*' And what, sir," I asked, while he paused, " did 
jrou do when you had settled her here ? Where did 
you go ? " 

"What did I do, Jane ? I transformed myself into 
a Will-o'-the-wisp. Where did I go ? I pursued 
wanderings as wild as those of the March-spirit. I 
sought the Continent, and went devious through all its 

II. G 



JANE EYRE. 

^ fixed desire was to seek and find a good 
-gent woman, whom I could love : a contrast 

ary I left at Thornfield" 

jt you could not marry, sir." 
. had determined, and was convinced that I could 
ought. It was not my original intention to deceive, 

I have deceived you. I meant to tell my tale plainly, 
and make my proposals openly : and it appeared to me 
so absolutely rational that I should be considered free 
to love and be loved, I never doubted some woman 
might be found willing and able to understand my case 
and accept me, in spite of the curse with which I was 
burdened.'* 

" Well, sir ? " 

" When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make 
me smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and 
make every now and then a restless movement ; as if 
answers in speech did not How fast enough for you, and 
you wanted to read the tablet of one's heart. But 
before I go on, tell me what you mean by your ' Well, 
sir ? ' It is a small phrase very frequent with you ; 
and which many a time has drawn me on and on 
through interminable talk : I don't very well know 
why." 

" I mean, — What next ? How did you proceed ? 
What came of such an event ? " 

" Precisely : and what do you wish to know 
now?" 

" Whether you found any one you liked : whether 
you asked her to marry you ; and what she said." 

" I can tell you whether I found any one I liked, 
and whether I asked her to marry me : but what she 
said is yet to be recorded in the book of Fate. For 
ten long years I roved about, living first in one capital, 
then another : sometimes in St Petersburgh ; oftener in 
Pans ; occasionally in Rome, Naples, and Florence. 



JANE EVRE. 99 

Provided with plenty of money, and the passport of an 
old name, I could choose my own society : no circles 
were closed against me. I sought my ideal of a woman 
amongst English ladies, French countesses, Italian 
signoras, and German grafinnen. I could not find her. 
Sometimes, for a fleeting moment, I thought I caught a 
glance, heard a tone, beheld a form, which announced 
the realisation of my dream : but I was presently un- 
deceived. You are not to suppose that I desired 
perfection, either of mind or person. I longed only for 
what suited me — for the antipodes of the Creole : and I 
longed vainly. Amongst them all I found not one, 
whom, had I been ever so free, I — warned as I was of 
the risks, the horrors, the loathings of incongruous 
unions — would have asked to marry me. Disappoint- 
ment made me reckless. I tried dissipation — never 
debauchery : that I hated, and hate. That was my 
Indian Messalina's attribute : rooted disgust at it and 
her restrained me much, even in pleasure. Any en- 
joyment that bordered on riot seemed to approach me 
to her and her vices, and I eschewed it. 

" Yet I could not live alone ; so I tried the com- 
panionship of mistresses. The first I chose was Celine 
Varens — another of those steps which make a man 
spurn himself when he recalls them. You already 
know what she was, and how my liaison with her 
terminated. She had two successors : an Italian, 
Giacinta, and a German, Clara ; both considered sin- 
gularly handsome. What was their beauty to me in a 
few weeks ? Giacinta was unprincipled and violent : I 
tired of her in three months. Clara was honest and 
quiet ; but heavy, mindless, unimpressible : not one 
whit to my taste. I was glad to give her a sufficient 
sum to set her up in a good line of business, and so get 
decently rid of her. But, Jane, I see by your face you 
are not forming a very favourable opinion of me just 



lOO JANE EYRE. 

now. You think me an unfeeling, loose-principled 
rake : don't you ? " 

" I don't like you so well as I have done sometimes, 
indeed, sir. Did it not seem to you in the least wrong 
to live in that way : first with one mistress and then 
another ? You talk of it as a mere matter of course." 

" It was with me ; and I did not like it. It was a 
grovelling fashion of existence : I should never like to 
return to it. Hiring a mistress is the next worse thing 
to buying a slave : both are often by nature, and always 
by position, inferior : and to live familiarly with in- 
feriors is degrading. I now hate the recollection of 
the time I passed with Celine, Giacinta, and Clara." 

I felt the truth of these words ; and I drew from 
them the certain inference, that if I were so far to 
forget myself and all the teaching that had ever been 
instilled into me, as — under any pretext — with any 
justification — through any temptation — to become the 
successor of these poor girls, he would one day regard me 
with the same feeling which now in his mind desecrated 
their memory. I did not give utterance to this convic- 
tion : it was enough to feel it. I impressed it on my 
heart, that it might remain there to serve me as aid in 
the time of trial. 

" Now, Jane, why don't you say * Well, sir ? * I 
have not done. You are looking grave. You disap- 
prove of me still, I see. But let me come to the point. 
Last January, rid of all mistresses — in a harsh, bitter, 
frame of mind, the result of a useless, roving, lonely life 
— corroded with disappointment, sourly disposed against 
all men, and especially against all luomankind (for I 
began to regard the notion of an intellectual, faithful, 
loving woman as a mere dream), recalled by business, I 
came back to England. 

" On a frosty winter afternoon, I rode in sight of 
Thornfield Hall. Abhorred spot ! I expected no 



JANE EYRE. 101 

peace — no pleasure there. On a stile in Hay Lane I 
saw a quiet little figure sitting by itself. I passed it 
as negligently as I did the pollard willow opposite to it : 
I had no presentiment of what it would be to me ; no 
inward warning that the arbitress of my life — my genius 
for good or evil — waited there in humble guise. I did 
not know it, even when, on the occasion of Mesrour's 
accident, it came up and gravely offered me help. 
Childish and slender creature ! It seemed as if a linnet 
had hopped to my foot and proposed to bear me on its 
tiny wing. I was surly ; but the thing would not go : 
it stood by me with strange perseverance, and looked 
and spoke with a sort of authority. I must be aided, 
and by that hand : and aided I was. 

" When once I had pressed the frail shoulder, some- 
thing new — a fresh sap and sense — stole into my frame. 
It was well I had learnt that this elf must return to me 
— that it belonged to my house down below — or I could 
not have felt it pass away from under my hand, and 
seen it vanish behind the dim hedge, without singular 
regret. I heard you come home that night, Jane : 
though probably you were not aware that I thought of 
you, or watched for you. Tiie next day I observed 
you — myself unseen — for half an hour, while you played 
with Adele in the gallery. It was a snowy day, I re- 
collect, and you could not go out of doors. I was in 
my room ; the door was ajar : I could both listen and 
watch. Adele claimed your outward attention for a 
while ; yet I fancied your thoughts were elsewhere : but 
you were very patient with her, my little Jane ; you 
talked to her and amused her a long time. When at 
last she left you, you lapsed at once into deep reverie : 
you betook yourself slowly to pace the gallery. Now 
and then, in passing a casement, you glanced out at the 
thick-falling snow ; you listened to the sobbing wind, 
and again you paced gently on and dreamed. I think 



102 JANE EYRE. 

those day visions were not dark : there was a pleasur- 
able illumination in your eye occasionally, a soft excite- 
ment in your aspect, which told of no bitter, bilious, 
hypochondriac brooding : your look revealed rather 
the sweet musings of youth, when its spirit follows 
on willing wings the flight of Hope, up and on to an 
ideal heaven. The voice of Mrs Fairfax, speaking to 
a servant in the hall, wakened you : and how curiously 
you smiled to and at yourself, Janet ! There was much 
sense in your smile : it was very shrewd, and seemed to 
make light of your own abstraction. It seemed to say 
— ' My fine visions are all very well, but I must not 
forget they are absolutely unreal. I have a rosy sky, 
and a green flowery Eden in my brain ; but without, I 
am perfectly aware, lies at my feet a rough tract to 
travel, and around me gather black tempests to en- 
counter.' You ran downstairs and demanded of Mrs 
Fairfax some occupation : the weekly house accounts to 
make up, or something of that sort, I think it was. I 
was vexed with you for getting out of my sight. 

" Impatiently I waited for evening, when I might 
summon you to my presence. An unusual — to me — a 
perfectly new character I suspected was yours : I 
desired to search it deeper, and know it better. You 
entered the room with a look and air at once shy and 
independent : you were quaintly dressed — much as you 
are now. I made you talk : ere long I found you full 
of strange contrasts. Your garb and manner were re- 
stricted by rule ; your air was often diffident, and alto- 
gether that of one refined by nature, but absolutely 
unused to society, and a good deal afraid of making 
herself disadvantageously conspicuous by some solecism 
or blunder ; yet when addressed, you lifted a keen, a 
daring, and a glowing eye to your interlocutor's face : 
there was penetration and power in each glance you 
gave ; when plied by close questions, you found ready 



JANE EYRE. IO3 

and round answers. Very soon, you seemed to get 
used to nie : I believe you felt the existence of sym- 
pathy between you and your grim and cross master, 
Jane ; for it was astonishing to see how quickly a 
certain pleasant ease tranquillised your manner : snarl 
as I would, you showed no surprise, fear, annoyance, or 
displeasure at my moroseness ; you watched me, and 
now and then smiled at me with a simple yet sagacious 
grace I cannot describe. I was at once content and 
stimulated with what I saw : I liked what I had seen, 
and wished to see more. Yet, for a long time, I 
treated you distantly, and sought your company rarely. 
I was an intellectual epicure, and wished to prolong the 
gratification of making this novel and piquant acquain- 
tance : besides, I was for a while troubled with a 
haunting fear that if I handled the flower freely its 
bloom would fade — the sweet charm of freshness would 
leave it. I did not then know that it was no transitory 
blossom ; but rather the radiant resemblance of one, cut 
in an indestructible gem. Moreover, I wished to see 
whether you would seek me if I shunned you — but you 
did not ; you kept in the school-room as still as your 
own desk and easel ; if by chance I met you, you 
passed me as soon, and with as little token of recogni- 
tion, as was consistent with respect. Your habitual 
expression in those days, Jane, was a thoughtful look ; 
not despondent, for you were not sickly ; but not 
buoyant, for you had little hope, and no actual pleasure. 
I wondered what you thought of me — or if you ever 
thought of me ; to find this out, I resumed my notice 
of you. There was something glad in your glance, and 
genial in your manner, when you conversed : I saw you 
had a social heart ; it was the silent school-room — it 
was the tedium of your life — that made you mournful. 
I permitted myself the delight of being kind to you ; 
kindness stirred emotion soon : your face became soft in 



I04 JANE EYRE. 

expression, your tones gentle : I liked my name pro- 
nounced by your lips in a grateful happy accent. I 
used to enjoy a chance meeting with you, Jane, at this 
time : there was a curious hesitation in your manner : 
you glanced at me with a slight trouble — a hovering 
doubt : you did not know what my caprice might be — 
whether I was going to play the master and be stern, or 
the friend and be benignant. I was now too fond of 
you often to simulate the iirst whim ; and, wiien I 
stretched my hand out cordially, such bloom and light 
and bliss rose to your young, wistful features, I had 
much ado often to avoid straining you then and there to 
my heart." 

" Don't talk any more of those days, sir," I inter- 
rupted, furtively dashing away some tears from my eyes ; 
his language was torture to me ; for I knew what I 
must do — and do soon — and all these reminiscences, 
and these revelations of his feelings only made my work 
more difficult. 

" No, Jane," he returned : " what necessity is there 
to dwell on the Past, when the Present is so much 
surer — the Future so much brighter ? " 

I shuddered to hear the infatuated assertion. 

" You see now how the case stands — do you not ? " 
he continued. " After a youth and manhood passed half 
in unutterable misery and half in dreary solitude, I have 
for the first time found what I can truly love — I have 
found you. You are my sympathy — my better self — 
my good angel — I am bound to you with a strong 
attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely : a 
fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart ; it 
leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, 
wraps my existence about you — and, kindling in pure, 
powerful flame, fuses you and me in one. 

" It was because I felt and knew this, that I resolved 
to marry you. To tell me that I had already a wife is 



JANE EYRE. I05 

empty mockery : you know now that I had but a 
hideous demon. I was wrong to attempt to deceive 
you ; but I feared a stubbornness that exists in your 
character. I feared early instilled prejudice : 1 wanted 
to have you safe before hazarding confidences. This 
was cowardly : I should have appealed to your noble- 
ness and magnanimity at first, as I do now — opened to 
you plainly my life of agony — described to you my 
hunger and thirst after a higher and worthier existence 
— shown to you, not my resolution (that word is weak), 
but my resistless bent to love faithfully and well, where 
I am faithfully and well loved in return. Then I 
should have asked you to accept my pledge of 
fidelity, and to give me yours: Jane — give it me 
now." 

A pause. 

" Why are you silent, Jane ? " 

I was experiencing an ordeal : a hand of fiery iron 
grasped my vitals. Terrible moment : full of struggle, 
blackness, burning ! Not a human being that ever 
lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved ; 
and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped : 
and I must renounce love and idol. One drear word 
comprised my intolerable duty — " Depart ! " 

" Jane, you understand what I want of you ? Just 
this promise — ' I will be yours, Mr Rochester.' " 

" Mr Rochester, I will not be yours." 

Another long silence. 

" Jane ! " recommenced he, with a gentleness that 
broke me down with grief, and turned me stone-cold 
with ominous terror — for this still voice was the pant of 
a lion rising — " Jane, do you mean to go one way in 
the world, and to let me go another ? " 

" I do. " 

" Jane " (bending towards and embracing me), " do 
you mean it now ? " 



Io6 JANE EYRE. 

" I do." 

" And now ? " softly kissing my forehead and 
cheek. 

" I do " — extricating myself from restraint rapidly 
and completely. 

"Oh, Jane, this is bitter ! This — this is wicked. It 
would not be wicked to love me." 

" It would to obey you." 

A wild look raised his brows — crossed his features : 
he rose ; but he forbore yet. I laid my hand on the 
back of a chair for support : I shook, I feared — but I 
resolved. 

" One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible 
life when you are gone. All happiness will be torn 
away with you. What then is left ? For a wife I 
have but the maniac upstairs : as well might you refer 
me to some corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall 
I do, Jane ? Where turn for a companion, and for 
some hope ? " 

" Do as I do : trust in God and yourself. Believe 
in heaven. Hope to meet again there. 

" Then you will not yield ? " 

" No." 

*'Then you condemn me to live wretched, and to die 
accursed ? " His voice rose. 

" I advise you to live sinless : and I wish you to die 
tranquil." 

" Then you snatch love and innocence from me ? 
You fling me back on lust for a passion — vice for an 
occupation ? " 

" Mr Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you 
than I grasp at it for myself. We were bora to strive 
and endure — you as well as I : do so. You will forget 
me before I forget you." 

" You make me a liar by such language : you sully 
my honour. I declared I could not change : you tell 



JANE EYRE. I07 

me to my face I shall change soon. And what a dis- 
tortion in your judgment, what a perversity in your 
ideas, is proved by your conduct ! Is it better to drive 
a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere 
human law — no man being injured by the breach ? for 
you have neither relatives nor acquaintances whom you 
need fear to offend by living with me." 

This was true : and while he spoke my very conscience 
and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me 
with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud 
as Feeling : and that clamoured wildly. " Oh, com- 
ply ! " it said. " Think of his misery ; think of his 
danger — look at his state when left alone ; remember 
his headlong nature ; consider the recklessness following 
on despair — soothe him ; save him ; love him ; tell 
him you love him and will be his. Who in the 
world cares for you? or who will be injured by what 
you do ? " 

Still indomitable was the reply — " / care for myself. 
The more solitary, the more friendless, the more un- 
sustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I 
will keep the law given by God ; sanctioned by 
man. I will hold to the principles received by 
me when I was sane, and not mad — as I am 
now. Laws and principles are not for the times 
when there is no temptation : they are for such 
moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny 
against their rigour ; stringent are they ; inviolate they 
shall be. If at my individual convenience I might 
break them, what would be their worth ? They have a 
worth — so I have always believed ; and if I cannot 
believe it now, it is because I am insane — quite insane : 
with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster 
than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, 
foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to 
stand by : there I plant my foot." 



lo8 JANE EYRE. 

I did. Mr Rochester, reading my countenance, saw 
I had done so. His fury was wrought to the highest : 
he must yield to it for a moment, whatever followed ; 
he crossed the floor and seized my arm, and grasped my 
waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming 
glance : physically, I felt, at the moment, powerless as 
stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace — 
mentally, I still possessed my soul, and with it the cer- 
tainty of ultimate safety. The soul, fortunately, has an 
interpreter — often an unconscious, but still a truthful 
interpreter — in the eye. My eye rose to his ; and 
while I looked in his fierce face, I gave an involuntary 
sigh : his gripe was painful, and my over-tasked strength 
almost exhausted. 

" Never," said he, as he ground his teeth, " never 
was anything at once so frail and so indomitable. A 
mere reed she feels in my hand ! " (And he shook 
me with the force of his hold.) "I could bend her 
with my finger and thumb : and what good would it do 
if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed her ? Consider that 
eye : consider the resolute, wild, free thing looking out 
of it, defying me, with more than courage — with a stern 
triumph. Whatever I do with its cage, I cannot get at 
it — the savage, beautiful creature I If I tear, if I rend 
the slight prison, my outrage will only let the captive 
loose. Conqueror I might be of the house ; but the 
inmate would escape to heaven before I could call my- 
self possessor of its clay dwelling-place. And it is you, 
spirit — with will and energy, and virtue and purity — 
that I want : not alone your brittle frame. Of your- 
self, you could come with soft flight and nestle against 
my heart, if you would : seized against your will you 
will elude the grasp like an essence — you will vanish 
ere I inhale your fragrance. Oh I come, Jane, come ! " 

As he said this, he released me from his clutch, and 
only looked at me. The look was far worse to resist 



JANE EYRE. lOg 

than the frantic strain : only an idiot, however, would 
have succumbed now. I had dared and baffled his 
fury ; I must elude his sorrow : I retired to the door. 

" You are going, Jane ? " 

" I am going, sir." 

" You are leaving me ? " 

« Yes." 

" You will not come ? — You will not be my com- 
forter, my rescuer ? — My deep love, my wild woe, my 
frantic prayer, are all nothing to you ? " 

What unutterable pathos was in his voice ! How 
hard it was to reiterate firmly, " I am going." 

"Jane! " 

" Mr Rochester ! " 

" Withdraw, then, — I consent — but remember, you 
leave me here in anguish. Go up to your own room ; 
think over all I have said, and, Jane, cast a glance on my 
sufferings — think of me," 

He turned away ; he threw himself on his face on the 
sofa. " Oh, Jane ! my hope — my love — my life ! " 
broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, 
strong sob. 

I had already gained the door : but, reader, I walked 
back — walked back as determinedly as I had retreated. 
I knelt down by him ; I turned his face from the cushion 
to me ; I kissed his cheek ; I smoothed his hair with my 
hand. 

" God bless you, my dear master ! " I said. " God 
keep you from harm and wrong — direct you, solace you 
— reward you well for your past kindness to me." 

" Little Jane's love would have been my best re- 
ward," he answered : " without it, my heart is broken. 
But Jane will give me her love : yes — nobly, generously." 

Up the blood rushed to his face ; forth flashed the 
fire from his eyes ; erect he sprang ; he held his 
arms out ; but I evaded the embrace, and at once 
quitted the room. 



no JANE EYRE. 

" Farewell ! " was the cry of my heart as I left him. 

Despair added, " Farewell, for ever ! " 

***** 

That night I never thought to sleep ; but a slumber 
fell on me as soon as I lay down in bed. I was trans- 
ported in thought to the scenes of childhood : I dreamt 
I lay in the red-room at Gateshead ; that the night was 
dark, and my mind impressed with strange fears. The 
light that long ago had struck me into syncope, recalled 
in this vision, seemed glidingly to mount the wall, and 
tremblingly to pause in the centre of the obscured 
ceiling. I lifted up my head to look : the roof resolved 
to clouds, high and dim ; the gleam was such as the 
moon imparts to vapours she is about to sever. T 
watched her come — watched with the strangest antici- 
pation ; as though some word of doom were to be 
written on her disk. She broke forth as never moon 
yet burst from cloud : a hand first penetrated the sable 
folds and waved them away ; then, not a moon, but a 
white human form shone in the azure, inclining a 
glorious brow earthward. It gazed and gazed on me. 
It spoke to my spirit ; immeasurably distant was the 
tone, yet so near, it whispered in my heart — 

" My daughter, flee temptation ! " 

" Mother, I will." 

So I answered after I had waked from the trance- 
like dream. It was yet night, but July nights are 
short : soon after midnight, dawn comes. " It cannot 
be too early to commence the task I have to fulfil," 
thought I. I rose : I was dressed ; for I had taken 
off nothing but my shoes. I knew where to find in my 
drawers some linen, a locket, a ring. In seeking these 
articles, I encountered the beads of a pearl necklace Mr 
Rochester had forced me to accept a few days ago. I 
left that ; it was not mine : it was the visionary biide's, 
who had melted in air. The other articles I made up 



JANE EYRE, III 

in a parcel ; my purse, containing twenty shillings (it 
was all I had), I put in my pocket : I tied on my 
straw bonnet, pinned my shawl, took the parcel and my 
slippers, which I would not put on yet, and stole from 
my room. 

" Farewell, kind Mrs Fairfax ! " I whispered, as I 
glided past her door. " Farewell, my darling Adele ! " 
I said as I glanced towards the nursery. No thought 
could be admitted of entering to embrace her. I had 
to deceive a fine ear : for aught I knew, it might now 
be listening. 

I would have got past Mr Rochester's chamber 
without a pause ; but my heart momentaiily stopping its 
beat at that threshold, my foot was forced to stop also. 
No sleep was there : the inmate was walking restlessly 
from wall to wall ; and again and again he sighed while 
I listened. There was a heaven — a temporary heaven 
— in this room for rae, if I chose : I had but to go in 
and to say — 

" Mr Rochester, I will love you and live with you 
through life till death," and a fount of rapture would 
spring to my lips. I thought of this. 

That kind master, who could not sleep now, was 
waiting with impatience for day. He would send for 
me in the morning ; I should be gone. He would 
have me sought for : vainly. He would feel himself 
forsaken ; his love rejected : he would suffer ; perhaps 
grow desperate. I thought of this too. My hand 
moved towards the lock : I caught it back, and glided 
on. 

Drearily I wound my way downstairs : I knew what 
I had to do, and I did it mechanically. I sought the 
key of the side-door in the kitchen ; I sought, too, a 
phial of oil and a feather ; I oiled the key and the lock. 
I got some water, I got some bread : for perhaps I 
should have to walk tar ; and my strength, sorely 



112 JANE EYRE, 

shaken of late, must not break down. All this I did 
without one sound. I opened the door, passed out, 
shut it softly. Dim dawn glimmered in the yard. The 
great gates were closed and locked ; but a wicket in one 
of them was only latched. Through that I departed : 
it, too, I shut ; and now I was out oi Thornfield. 

A mile off, beyond the fields, lay a road which 
stretched in the contrary direction to Millcote ; a road I 
had never travelled, but often noticed, and wondered 
where it led : thither I bent my steps. No reflection 
was to be allowed now : not one glance was to be cast 
back ; not even one forward. Not one thought was 
to be given either to the past or the future. The 
first was a page so heavenly sweet — so deadly sad — that 
to read one line of it would dissolve my courage and 
break down my energy. The last was an awful blank : 
something like the world when the deluge was gone by. 
I skirted fields, and hedges, and lanes, till after 
sunrise. I believe it was a lovely summer niorning : I 
know my shoes, which I had put on when I left the 
house, were soon wet with dew. But I looked neither 
to rising sun, nor smiling sky, nor wakening nature. 
He who is taken out to pass through a fair scene to the 
scaffold, thinks not of the flowers that smile on his 
road, but of the block and axe-edge ; of the dissever- 
ment of bone and vein ; of the grave gaping at the end : 
and I thought of drear flight and homeless wandering 
— and, oh ! with agony I thought of what I left. I 
could not help it. I thought of him now — in his room — 
watching the sunrise ; hoping I should soon come to say 
I would stay with him, and be his. I longed to be his ; 
I panted to return : it was not too late ; I could yet 
spare him the bitter pang of bereavement. As yet my 
flight, I was sure, was undiscovered. I could go back 
and be his comforter — his pride ; his redeemer from 
misery ; perhaps from ruin. Oh, that fear of his self- 



JANE EYRE. II3 

abandonment — far worse than my abandonment — how 
it goaded me ! It was a barbed arrow-head in my 
breast ; it tore me when I tried to extract it ; it sick- 
ened me when remembrance thrust it further in. Birds 
began singing in brake and copse : birds were faithful to 
their mates ; birds were emblems of love. What was 
I ? In the midst of my pain of heart, and frantic effort 
of principle, I abhorred myself. I had no solace from 
self-approbation : none even from self-respect. I had 
injured — wounded — left my master. I was hateful in 
my own eyes. Still I could not turn, nor retrace one 
step. God must have led me on. As to my own will 
or conscience, impassioned grief had trampled one and 
stifled the other. I was weeping wildly as I walked 
along my solitary way: fast, fast I went like one deli- 
rious. A weakness, beginning inwardly, extending to 
the limbs, seized me, and I fell : I lay on the ground 
some minutes, pressing my face to the wet turf. I had 
some fear — or hope — that here I should die : but I was 
soon up ; crawling forwards on my hands and knees, 
and then again raised to my feet — as eager and as deter- 
mined as ever to reach the road. 

When I got there I was forced to sit to rest me 
under the hedge ; and while I sat, I heard wheels, and 
saw a coach come on. I stood up and lifted my hand ; 
it stopped. I asked where it was going : the driver 
named a place a long way oif, and where I was sure Mr 
Rochester had no connections. I asked for what sum 
he would take me there ; he said thirty shillings ; I 
answered I had but twenty ; well, he would try to make 
it do. He further gave me leave to get into the inside, 
as the vechicle was empty : I entered, was shut in, and 
it rolled on its way. 

Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt ! 
May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart- 
wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never 

II. H 



114 JANE EYRE. 

appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonised 
as in that hour left my lips : for never may you, hke me, 
dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly 
love. 



Chapter xxbiij* 

TWO days are passed. It is a summer evening ; 
the coachman has set me down at a place called 
Whitcross ; he could take me no farther for the 
sum I had given, and I was not possessed of another 
shilling in the world. The coach is a mile off by this 
time ; I am alone. At this moment I discover that I 
forgot to take my parcel out of the pocket of the coach, 
where I had placed it for safety ; there it remains, there 
it must remain ; and now, I am absolutely destitute. 

Whitcross is no town, nor even a hamlet ; it is but a 
stone pillar set up where four roads meet : white-washed, 
I suppose to be more obvious at a distance and in dark- 
ness. Four arms spring from its summit : the nearest 
town to which these point is, according to the inscrip- 
tion, distant ten miles ; the farthest, above twenty. 
From the well known names of these towns I learn in 
what county I have lighted ; a north-midland shire, 
dusk with moorland, ridged with mountain : this I see. 
There are great moors behind and on each hand of me ; 
there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley 
at my feet. The population here must be thin, and I 
see no passengers on these roads : tliey stretch out east, 
west, north, and south — white, broad, lonely; they are 
all cut in the moor, and the heather grows deep and 
wild to tlieir very verge. Yet a chance traveller might 
pass by ; and I wish no eye to see me now : strangers 
would wonder what I am doing, lingering here at the 
sign-post, evidently objectless and lost. I might be 



JANE EYRE. II5 

questioned : I could give no answer but what would 
sound incredible, and excite suspicion. Not a tie holds 
me to human society at this moment — not a charm or 
hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are — none that 
saw me would have a kind thought or good wish for me. 
I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature : I 
will seek her breast and ask repose. 

I struck straight into the heath ; I held on to a hol- 
low I saw deeply furrowing the brown moorside ; I 
waded knee-deep, in its dark growth ; I turned with its 
turnings, and finding a moss-blackened granite crag in a 
hidden angle, I sat down under it. High banks of 
moor were about me ; the crag protected my head : the 
sky was over that. 

Some time passed before I felt tranquil even here : I 
had a vague dread that wild cattle might be near, or 
that some sportsman or poacher might discover me. 
If a gust of wind swept the waste, I looked up, fearing 
it was the rush of a bull ; if a plover whistled, I ima- 
gined it a man. Finding my apprehensions unfounded, 
however, and calmed by the deep silence that reigned 
as evening declined at nightfall, I took confidence. As 
yet 1 had not thought ; I had only listened, watched, 
dreaded ; now I regained the faculty of reflection. 

What was I to do ? Where to go ? Oh, intoler- 
able questions, when I could do nothing and go no- 
where ! — when a long way must yet be measured by 
my weary, trembling limbs, before I could reach human 
habitation — when cold charity must be entreated before 
I could get a lodging : reluctant sympathy importuned : 
almost certain repulse incurred : before my tale could 
be listened to, or one of my wants relieved ! 

I touched the heath : it was dry, and yet warm with 
the heat of the summer-day. I looked at the sky ; it 
was pure : a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm 
ridge. The dew fell, but with propitious softness ; no 



Il6 JANE EYRE. 

breeze whispered. Nature seemed to me benign and 
good ; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was ; and 
I, who from man could anticipate only mistrust, rejec- 
tion, insult, clung to her with filial fondness. To- 
night, at least, I would be her guest — as I was her 
child : my mother would lodge me without money and 
without price. I had one morsel of bread yet : the 
remnant of a roll I had bought in a town we passed 
through at noon with a stray penny — my last coin. I 
saw ripe bilberries gleaming here and there, like jet 
beads in the heath : I gathered a handful and ate them 
with the bread. My hunger, sharp before, was, if not 
satisfied, appeased by this hermit's meal. I said my even- 
ing prayers at its conclusion, and then chose my couch. 

Beside the crag, the heath was very deep : when I 
lay down my feet were buried in it ; rising high on 
each side, it left only a narrow space for the night-air 
to invade. I folded my shawl double, and spread it 
over me for a coverlet ; a low, mossy swell was my 
pillow. Thus lodged, I was not, at least at the com- 
mencement of the night, cold. 

My rest might have been blissful enough, only a sad 
heart broke it. It plained of its gaping wounds, its in- 
ward bleeding, its riven chords. It trembled for Mr 
Rochester and his doom : it bemoaned him with bitter 
pity ; it demanded him with ceaseless longing : and, 
impotent as a bird with both wings broken, it still 
quivered its shattered pinions in vain attempts to seek 
him. 

Worn out with this torture of thought, I rose to my 
knees. Night was come, and her planets were risen : a 
safe, still night ; too serene for the companionship of 
fear. We know that God is everywhere ; but cer- 
tainly we feel His presence most when His works are 
on the grandest scale spread before us : and it is in the 
unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their 



JANE EYRE. 1 17 

silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His 
omnipotence, His omnipresence. I had risen to my 
knees to pray for Mr Rochester. Looking up, I, with 
tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty Milky-way. Re- 
membering what it was — what countless systems there 
swept space like a soft trace of light — I felt the might 
and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to 
save what He had made : convinced I grew that neither 
earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured. I 
turned my prayer to thanksgiving : the Source of Life 
was also the Saviour of spirits. Mr Rochester was 
safe : he was God's and by God would he be guarded. 
I again nestled to the breast of the hill ; and ere long, 
in sleep, forgot sorrow. 

But next day. Want came to me, pale and bare. 
Long after the little birds had left their nests; long 
after bees had come in the sweet prime of day to gather 
the heath honey before the dew was dried — when the 
long morning shadows were curtailed, and the sun filled 
earth and sky — I got up, and I looked round me. 

What a still, hot, perfect day ! What a golden 
desert this spreading moor ! Everywhere sunshine. I 
wished I could live in it and on it. I saw a lizard run 
over the crag ; I saw a bee busy among the sweet bil- 
berries. I would fain at the moment have become bee 
or lizard, that I might have found fitting nutriment, 
permanent shelter here. But I was a human being, 
and had a human being's wants : I must not linger 
where there was nothing to supply them. I rose ; I 
looked back at the bed I had left. Hopeless of the 
future, I wished but this — that my Maker had that 
night thought good to require my soul of me while I 
slept ; and that this weary frame, absolved by death 
from further conflict with fate, had now but to decay 
quietly, and mingle in peace with the soil of this 
wilderness. Life, however, was yet in my possession ; 



Il8 JANE EYRE. 

with all its requirements, and pains, and responsibilities. 
The burden must be carried ; the want provided for ; 
the suffering endured ; the responsibility fulfilled. I 
set out. 

Whitcross regained, I followed a road which led 
from the sun, now fervent and high. By no other cir- 
cumstance had I will to decide my choice. I walked 
a long time, and when I thought I had nearly done 
enough, and might conscientiously yield to the fatigue 
that almost overpowered me — might relax this forced 
action, and, sitting down on a stone I saw near, submit 
resistlessly to the apathy that clogged heart and limb — 
I heard a bell chime — a church bell. 

I turned in the direction of the sound, and there, 
amongst the romantic hills, whose changes and aspect I 
had ceased to note an hour ago, I saw a hamlet and a 
spire. All the valley at my right hand was full of 
pasture-fields, and corn-fields, and wood ; and a glitter- 
ing stream ran zig-zag through the varied shades of 
green, the mellowing grain, the sombre wood-land, the 
clear and sunny lea. Recalled by the rumbling of 
wheels to the road before me, I saw a heavily-laden 
waggon labouring up the hill ; and not far beyond were 
two cows and their drover. Human life and human 
labour were near. I must struggle on : strive to live 
and bend to toil like the rest. 

About two o'clock, p.m., I entered the village. At 
the bottom of its one street, there was a little shop with 
some cakes of bread in the window. I coveted a cake 
of bread. With that refreshment I could perhaps 
regain a degree of energy ; without it, it would be 
difficult to proceed. The wish to have some strength 
and some vigour returned to me as soon as I was 
amongst my fellow-beings. I felt it would be degrad- 
ing to faint with hunger on the causeway of a hamlet. 
Had I nothing about me 1 could offer in exchange for 



JANE EYRE. II9 

one of these rolls ? I considered. I had a small silk 
handkerchief tied round my throat ; I had my gloves. 
I could hardly tell how men and women in extremities 
of destitution proceeded- I did not know whether 
either of these articles would be accepted : probably 
they would not ; but I must try. 

I entered the shop : a woman was there. Seeing a 
respectably-dressed person, a lady as she supposed, she 
came forward with civility. How could she sei"ve me ? 
I was seized with shame : my tongue would not utter 
the request I had prepared. I dared not offer her the 
half-worn gloves, the creased handkerchief: besides, I 
felt it would be absurd. I only begged permission to 
sit down a moment, as I was tired. Disappointed in 
the expectation of a customer, she coolly acceded to 
my request. She pointed to a seat ; I sank into it. I 
felt sorely urged to weep ; but conscious how unseason- 
able such a manifestation would be, I restrained it. 
Soon I asked her, " if there were any dressmaker or 
plain-work-woman in the village ? " 

" Yes ; two or three. Quite as many as there was 
employment for." 

I reflected. I was driven to the point now. I 
was brought face to face with Necessity. I stood in 
the position of one without a resource : without a 
friend ; without a coin. I must do something. What ? 
I must apply somewhere. Where ? 

" Did she know of any place in the neighbourhood 
where a servant was wanted ?" 

" Nay ; she couldn't say." 

" What was the chief trade in this place ? Wha* 
did most of the people do ? " 

" Some were farm labourers ; a good deal worked at 
Mr Oliver's needle-factory, and at the foundry." 

" Did Mr Oliver employ women : " 

" Nay ; it was men's work." 



I20 JANE EYRE. 

" And what do the women do f " 
" I knawn't," was the answer. " Some does one 
thing, and some another. Poor folk mun get on as they 
can." 

She seemed to be tired of my questions : and, 
indeed, what claim had I to importune her ? A neigh- 
bour or two came in ; my chair was evidently wanted. 
I took leave. 

1 passed up the street, looking as I went at all the 
houses to the right hand and to the left : but I could 
discover no pretext, nor see an inducement, to enter 
any. I rambled round the hamlet, going sometimes to 
a little distance and returning again, for an hour or 
more. Much exhausted, and suffering greatly now for 
want of food, I turned aside into a lane and sat down 
under the hedge. Ere many minutes had elapsed, I 
was again on my feet, however, and again searching 
something — a resource, or at least an informant. A 
pretty little house stood at the top of the lane, with a 
garden before it ; exquisitely neat, and brilliantly 
blooming. I stopped at it. What business had I to 
approach the white door, or touch the glittering knocker ? 
In what way could it possibly be the interest of the 
inhabitants of that dwelling to serve me ? Yet I 
drew near and knocked. A mild-looking, cleanly- 
attired young woman opened the door. In such a voice 
as might be expected from a hopeless heart and fainting 
fi-ame — a voice wretchedly low and faltering — I asked 
if a servant was wanted here ? 

" No," said she ; " we do not keep a servant." 
" Can you tell me where I could get employment of 
any kind ? " I continued. " I am a stranger, without 
acquaintance, in this place. I want some work : no 
matter what." 

But it was not her business to think for me, or to 
seek a place for me : besides, in her eyes, how doubtful 



JANE EYRE. 121 

must have appeared ray character, position, tale. She 
shook her head, she " was sorry she could give me no 
information," and the white door closed, quite gently 
and civilly : but it shut me out. If she had held it open 
a little longer, I believe I should have begged a piece of 
bread ; for I was now brought low. 

I could not bear to return to the sordid village ; 
where, besides, no prospect of aid was visible. I should 
have longed rather to deviate to a wood I saw not far 
off, which appeared in its thick shade to offer inviting 
shelter ; but I was so sick, so weak, so gnawed with 
nature's cravings, instinct kept me roaming round abodes 
where there was a chance of food. Solitude would be 
no solitude — rest no rest — while the vulture, hunger, 
thus sank beak and talons in my side. 

I drew near houses ; I left them, and came back again, 
and again I wandered away : always repelled by the 
consciousness of having no claim to ask — no right to 
expect interest in my isolated lot. Meantime, the 
afternoon advanced, while I thus wandered about like a 
lost and starving dog. In crossing a field, I saw the 
church spire before me : I hastened towards it. Near 
the churchyard, and in the middle of a garden, stood 
a well-built though small house, which I had no doubt 
was the parsonage. I remembered that strangers who 
arrive at a place .where they have no friends, and who 
want employment, sometimes apply to the clergyman for 
introduction and aid. It is the clergyman's function to 
help — at least with advice — those who wished to help 
themselves. I seemed to have something like a right to 
seek counsel here. Renewing then, my courage, and 
gathering my feeble remains of strength, I pushed on. 
I reached the house, and knocked at the kitchen-door. 
An old woman opened : I asked was this the parson- 
age ? 
■ " Yes." 



122 JANE EYRE. 

" Was the clergyman in ? " 

" No." 

" Would he be in soon ? " 

" No, he was gone from home." 

" To a distance ? " 

" Not so far — happen three mile. He had been 
called away by the sudden death of his father : he was 
at Marsh End now, and would very Hkely stay there a 
fortnight longer." 

" Was there any lady of the house ? " 

" Nay, there was naught but her, and she was house- 
keeper ; " and of her, reader, I could not bear to ask 
the relief for want of which I was sinking ; I could not 
yet beg ; and again I crawled away. 

Once more I took off my handkerchief — once more 
I thought of the cakes of bread in the little shop. Oh, 
for but a crust ! for but one mouthful to allay the pang 
of famine ! Instinctively I turned my face again to the 
village ; I found the shop again, and I went in ; and 
though others were there besides the woman, I ventured 
the request : " Would she give me a roll for this hand- 
kerchief?" 

She looked at me with evident suspicion : " Nay, she 
never sold stuff i' that way." 

Almost desperate, I asked for half a cake ; she again 
refused. " How could she tell where I had got the 
handkerchief," she said. 

" Would she take my gloves ? " 

" No ! what could she do with them ? " 

Reader, it is not pleasant to dwell on these details. 
Some say there is enjoyment in looking back to painful 
experience past ; but at this day I can scarcely bear to 
review the times to which I allude : the moral degrada- 
tion, blent with the physical suffering, form too distress- 
ing a recollection ever to be willingly dwelt on. I 
blamed none of those who repulsed me. I felt it was 



JANE EYRE, 1 23 

what was to be expected, and what could not be 
helped : an ordinary beggar is frequently an object of 
suspicion ; a well-dressed beggar inevitably so. To be 
sure what I begged was employment : but whose busi- 
ness was it to provide me with employment ? Not, 
certainly, that of persons who saw me then for the first 
time, and who knew nothing about my character. And 
as to the woman who would not take my handkerchief 
in exchange for her bread, why, she was right ; if the 
offer appeared to her sinister, or the exchange unprofit- 
able. Let me condense now. I am sick of the 
subject. 

A little before dark I passed a farm-house, at the 
open door of which the farmer was sitting, eating his 
supper of bread and cheese ; I stopped, and said : — 

" Will you give me a piece of bread ? for I am veiy 
hungry." He cast on me a glance of surprise ; but 
without answering, he cut a thick slice from his loaf, 
and gave it to me. I imagine he did not think I was 
a beggar, but only an eccentric sort of lady, who had 
taken a fancy to his brown loaf. As soon as I was out 
of sight of his house, I sat down and ate it. 

I could not hope to get a lodging under a roof, and 
sought it in the wood I have before alluded to. But 
my night was wretched, my rest broken : the ground 
was damp, the air cold : besides intruders passed near 
me more than once, and I had again and again to 
change my quarters : no sense of safety or tranquillity 
befriended me. Towards morning it rained ; the whole 
of the following day was wet. Do not ask me, reader, 
to give a minute account of that day ; as before, I 
sought work ; as before, I was repulsed ; as before, I 
starved ; but once did food pass my lips. At the door 
of a cottage I saw a little girl about to throw a mess of 
cold porridge into a pig trough. " Will you give me 
that?" I asked. 



124 JANE EYRE. 

She Stared at me. " Mother ! " she exclaimed ; 
" there is a woman wants me to give her these 
porridge." 

" Well, lass," replied a voice within, " give it her if 
she's a beggar. T' pig doesn't want it." 

The girl emptied the stiffened mould into my hand, 
and I devoured it ravenously. 

As the wet twilight deepened, I stopped in a 
solitary bridle-path, which I had been pursuing an hour 
or more. 

" My strength is quite failing me," I said, in soli- 
loquy. " I feel I cannot go much further. Shall I be 
an outcast again this night ? While the rain descends 
so, must I lay my head on the cold, drenched ground ! 
I fear I cannot do otherwise : for who will receive me ? 
But it will be very dreadful : with this feeling of 
hunger, faintness, chill, and this sense of desolation — 
this total prostration of hope. In all likelihood, though, 
I should die before morning. And why cannot I recon- 
cile myself to the prospect of death ? Why do I struggle 
to retain a valueless life ? Because I know, or believe, 
Mr Rochester is still living : and then, to die of want 
and cold, is a fate to which nature cannot submit 
passively. Oh, Providence ! sustain me a little longer ! 
Aid — direct me ! " 

My glazed eye wandered over the dim and misty 
landscape. I saw I had strayed far from the village : 
it was quite out of sight. The veiy cultivation sur- 
rounding it had disappeared. I had, by cross-ways and 
by-paths, once more drawn near the tract of moorland ; 
and now, only a few fields, almost as wild and unpro- 
ductive as the heath from which they were scarcely 
reclaimed, lay between me and the dusky hill. 

" Well, I would rather die yonder than in a street, 
or on a frequented road," I reflected. " And far better 
that crows and ravens — if any lavens there be in these 



JANE EYRE. 1 25 

regions — should pick my flesh from my bones, than that 
they should be prisoned in a workhouse coffin and 
moulder in a pauper's grave." 

To the hill, then, I turned. I reached it. It re- 
mained now only to find a hollow where I could He 
down, and feel at least hidden, if not secure : but all the 
surface of the waste looked level. It showed no varia- 
tion but of tint ; green, where rush and moss overgrew 
the marshes ; black, where the dry soil bore only heath. 
Dark as it was getting, I could still see these changes ; 
though but as mere alterations of light and shade : for 
colour had faded with the daylight. 

My eye still roved over the sullen swell, and along the 
moor-edge, vanishing amidst the wildest scenery ; when 
at one dim point, far in among the marshes and the 
ridges, a light sprang up. "That is an ignis fatuus," 
was my first thought ; and I expected it would soon 
vanish. It burnt on, however, quite steadily ; neither 
receding nor advancing. " Is it, then, a bonfire just 
kindled ? " I questioned. I watched to see whether it 
would spread : but no ; as it did not diminish, so it did 
not enlarge. " It may be a candle in a house," I then 
conjectured : " but if so, I can never reach it. It is 
much too far away : and were it within a yard of me, 
what would it avail ? I should but knock at the door 
to have it shut in my face." 

And I sank down where I stood, and hid my face 
against the ground. I lay still a while : the night- 
wind swept over the hill and over me, and died moan- 
ing in the distance ; the rain fell fast, wetting me afresh 
to the skin. Could I but have stiffened to the still frost 
— the friendly numbness of death — it might have pelted 
on : I should not have felt it ; but my yet living flesh 
shuddered to its chilling influence. I rose ere long. 

The light was yet there : shining dim, but constant, 
through the rain. I tried to walk again : I dragged 



126 JANE EYRE. 

my exhausted limbs slowly towards it. It led me aslant 
over the hill, through a wide bog ; which would have 
been impassable in winter, and was splashy and shaking 
even now, in the height of summer. Here I fell 
twice ; but as often I rose and rallied my faculties. 
This light was my forlorn hope : I must gain it. 

Having crossed the marsh, I saw a trace of white 
over the moor. I approached it ; it was a road or a 
track : it led straight up to the light, which now beamed 
from a sort of knoll, amidst a clump of trees — firs, ap- 
parently, from what I could distinguish of the character 
of their forms and foliage through the gloom. My star 
vanished as I drew near : some obstacle had intervened 
between me and it. I put out my hand to feel the dark 
mass before me ; I discriminated the rough stones of a 
low wall — above it, something like palisades, and within, 
a high and prickly hedge. I groped on. Again a 
whitish object gleamed before me : it was a gate — a 
wicket ; it moved on its hinges as I touched it. On 
each side stood a sable bush — holly or yew. 

Entering the gate and passing the shrubs, the silhou- 
ette of a house rose to view ; black, low, and rather 
long ; but the guiding light shone nowhere. All was 
obscurity. Were the inmates retired to rest ? I feared 
it must be so. In seeking the door, I turned an angle : 
there shot out the friendly gleam again, from the loz- 
enged panes of a very small latticed window, within a 
foot of the ground ; made still smaller by the growth of 
ivy or some other creeping plant, whose leaves clustered 
thick over the portion of the house wall in which it was 
set. The aperture was so screened and narrow, that 
curtain or shutter had been deemed unnecessary ; and 
when I stooped down and put aside the spray of foliage 
shooting over it, I could see all within. I could see 
clearly a room with a sanded floor, clean scoured ; a 
dresser of walnut, with pewter plates ranged in rows, 



JANE EYRE. 1 27 

reflecting the redness and radiance of a glowing peat- 
fire. I could see a clock, a white deal table, some 
chairs. The candle, whose ray had been my beacon, 
burnt on the table ; and by its light an elderly woman, 
somewhat rough -looking, but scrupulously clean, like all 
about her, was knitting a stocking. 

I noted these objects cursorily only — in them there 
was nothing extraordinary. A group of more interest 
appeared near the hearth, sitting still amidst the rosy 
peace and warmth suffusing it. Two young, graceful 
women — ladies in every point — sat, one on a low rock- 
ing-chair, the other on a lower stool ; both wore deep 
mourning of crape and bombazeen, which sombre garb 
singularly set off very fair necks and faces : a large old 
pointer dog rested its massive head on the knee of one 
girl — in the lap of the other was cushioned a black 
cat. 

A strange place was this humble kitchen for such 
occupants ! Who were they ? They could not be the 
daughters of the elderly person at the table ; for she 
looked like a rustic, and they were all delicacy and cul- 
tivation. I had nowhere seen such faces as theirs : and 
yet, as I gazed on them, I seemed intimate with every 
lineament. I cannot call them handsome — they were too 
pale and grave for the word : as they each bent over a 
book, they looked thoughtful almost to severity. A 
stand between them supported a second candle and two 
great volumes, to which they frequently referred ; com- 
paring them seemingly with the smaller books they held 
in their hands, like people consulting a dictionary to aid 
them in the task of translation. This scene was as 
silent as if all the figures had been shadows, and the 
fire-lit apartment a picture : so hushed was it, I could 
hear the cinders fall from the grate, the clock tick in its 
obscure corner ; and I even fancied I could distmguish 
the click-click of the woman's knitting-needles. When, 



128 JANE EYRE. 

therefore, a voice broke the strange stillness at last, it 
was audible enough to me. 

" Listen, Diana," said one of the absorbed students : 
" Franz and old Daniel are together in the night-time, 
and Franz is telling a dream from which he has awakened 
in terror — listen ! " And in a low voice she read 
something, of which not one word was intelligible to 
me ; for it was in an unknown tongue — neither French 
nor Latin. Whether it were Greek or German I 
could not tell. 

" That is strong," she said, when she had finished : 
*' I relish it." The other girl, who had lifted her 
head to listen to her sister, repeated, while she gazed at 
the fire, a line of what had been read. At a later day, 
I knew the language and the book ; therefore I will 
here quote tlie line : though when I first heard it, it 
was only like a stroke on sounding brass to me — con- 
veying no meaning : — 

" ' Da trat hervor Einer, anzusehen wie die Sternen 
Nacht,' Good! good!" she exclaimed, while her dark 
and deep eye sparkled. " There you have a dim and 
mighty archangel fitly set before you ! The line is 
worth a hundred pages of fustian. ' Ich wage die 
Gedanken in der Schale meines Zornes und die Werke 
mit dem Gewichte meines Grimms.' I like it ! " 

Both were again silent. 

" Is there ony country where they talk i' that way?" 
asked the old woman, looking up from her knitting 

" Yes, Hannah — a far larger country than England ; 
where they talk in no other way." 

"Well, for sure case, I knawn't how they can under- 
stand t' one t' other : and if either o' ye went there, 
ye could tell what they said, I guess ? " 

" We could probably tell something of what they 
said, but not all — for we are not as clever as you think 
us, Hannah. We don't speak German, and we cannot 
read it without a dictionary to help us." 



JANE EYRE. I29 

" And what good does it do you ? " 

" We mean to teach it some time — or at least the 
elements, as they say ; and then we shall get more money 
than we do now." 

" Varry like : but give ower studying : ye've done 
enough for to-night." 

" I think we have : at least I'm tired. Mary, are 
you ? " 

" Mortally : after all, it's tough work fagging away 
at a language with no master but a lexicon." 

" It is : especially such a language as this crabbed but 
glorious Deutsch. I wonder when St John will come 
home." 

" Surely he will not be long now : it is just ten 
(looking at a little gold watch she drew from her 
girdle). "It rains fast. Hannah, will you have the 
goodness to look at the fire in the parlour ? " 

The woman rose : she opened a door, through 
which I dimly saw a passage : soon I heard her stir 
a fire in an inner room ; she presently came back. 

" Ah, childer ! " said she, " it fair troubles me to go 
into yond' room now : it looks so lonesome wi' the 
chair empty and set back in a corner." 

She wiped her eyes with her apron : the two girls, 
grave before, looked sad now. 

*' But he is in a better place," continued Hannah : 
" we shouldn't wish him here again. And then, 
nobody need to have a quieter death nor he had." 

" You say he never mentioned us ? " inquired one of 
the ladies. 

" He hadn't time, bairn : he was gone in a minute 
— was your father. He had been a bit ailing like the 
day before, but naught to signify ; and when Mr 
St John asked if he would like either o' ye to be sent 
for, he fair laughed at him. He began again with 
a bit of a heaviness in his head the next day — that 

II. I 



130 JANE EYRE. 

is, a fortnight sin' — and he went to sleep and niver 
wakened ; he wor a'most stark when your brother 
went into t' chamber and fand him. Ah, childer ! 
that's t' last o' t' old stock — for ye and Mr St John 
is like of a different soart to them 'at's gone ; for all 
your mother wor mich 1' your way ; and a'most as 
book-learned. She wor the pictur' o' ye, Mary : 
Diana is more like your father." 

I thought them so similar I could not tell where the 
old servant (for such I now concluded her to be) saw 
the difference. Both were fair complexioned and 
slenderly made ; both possessed faces full of distinction 
and intelligence. One, to be sure, had hair a shade 
darker than the other, and there was a difference in 
their style of wearing it : Mary's pale brown locks 
were parted and braided smooth ; Diana's duskier 
tresses covered her neck with thick curls. The clock 
struck ten. 

" Ye '11 want your supper, I am sure," observed 
Hannah ; " and so will Mr St John when he comes in." 

And she proceeded to prepare the meal. The ladies 
rose ; they seemed about to withdraw to the parlour. 
Till this moment, I had been so intent on watching 
them, their appearance and conversation had excited in 
me 80 keen an interest, I had half-forgotten my own 
wretched position : now it recurred to me. More 
desolate, more desperate than ever, it seemed from con- 
trast. And how impossible did it appear to touch the 
inmates of this house with concern on my behalf; to 
make them believe in the truth of my wants and woes — 
to induce them to vouchsafe a rest for my wanderings ! 
As I groped out the door, and knocked at it hesitat- 
ingly, I felt that last idea to be a mere chimera. Hannah 
opened. 

" What do you want ? " she inquired, in a voice of 
surprise, as she surveyed me by the light of the candle 
she held. 



JANE EYRE. 13T 

" May I speak to your mistresses ? '* I said. 

" You had better tell me what you have to say to 
them. Where do you come from ? " 

" I am a stranger." 

" What is your business here at this hour?" 

*' I want a night's shelter in an out-house or any- 
where, and a morsel of bread to eat." 

Distrust, the very feeling I dreaded, appeared in 
Hannah's face. " I '11 give you a piece of bread," she 
said, after a pause ; " but we can't take in a vagrant to 
lodge. It isn't likely." 

" Do let me speak to your mistresses." 

" No ; not I. What can they do for you ? You 
should not be roving about now ; it looks very ill." 

"But where shall I go if you drive me away? 
What shall I do ? " 

" Oh, I'll warrant you know where to go, and what 
to do. Mind you don't do wrong, that's all. Here is 
a penny ; now go " 

" A penny cannot feed me, and I have no strength 
to go farther. Don't shut the door : — oh, don't, for 
God's sake ! " 

" I must ; the rain is driving in " 

" Tell the young ladies. — Let me see them "- 



" Indeed, I will not. You are not what you ought 
to be, or you wouldn't make such a noise. Move 
off." 

" But I must die if I am turned away." 

" Not you. I'm fear'd you have some ill plans 
agate, that bring you about folk's houses at this time o' 
night. If you've any followers — housebreakers or such 
like — anywhere near, you may tell them we are not by 
ourselves in the house ; we have a gentleman, and dogs, 
and guns." Here the honest but inflexible servant 
clapped the door to and bolted it within. 

'J^his was the climax. A pan^; of exquisite suffering 



132 JANE EYRE. 

— a throe of true despair — rent and heaved my heart. 
Worn out, indeed, I was ; not another step could I 
stir. I sank, on the wet door-step : 1 groaned — I wrung 
my hands — I wept in utter anguish. Oh, this spectre 
of death ! Oh, this last hour, approaching in such 
horror ! Alas, this isolation — this banishment from 
my kind ! Not only the anchor of home, but the foot- 
ing of fortitude was gone — at least for a moment : but 
the last I soon endeavoured to regain. 

" I can but die," I said, " and I believe in God. 
Let me try to wait His will in silence." 

These words I not only thought, but uttered ; and 
thrusting back all my misery into my heart, I made 
an effort to compel it to remain there — dumb and 
still. 

" All men must die," said a voice quite close at 
hand ; " but all are not condemned to meet a lingering 
and premature doom, such as yours would be if you 
perished here of want." 

" Who or what speaks ? " I asked, terrified at the 
unexpected sound, and incapable now of deriving from 
any occurrence a hope of aid. A form was near — 
what form, the pitch-dark night and my enfeebled 
vision prevented me from distinguishing. With a loud 
long knock, the new comer appealed to the door. 

" Is it you, Mr St John ? " cried Hannah. 

" Yes — yes ; open quickly." 

" Well, how wet and cold you must be, such a wild 
night as it is ! Come in — your sisters are quite uneasy 
about you, and I believe there are bad folks about. 
There has been a beggar-woman — I declare she is not 
gone yet! — laid down there. Get up! for shame! 
Move off, I say ! " 

" Hush, Hannah ! I have a word to say to the 
woman. You have done your duty in excluding, now let 
me do mine in admitting her. I was near, and listened 



JANE EYRE. 133 

to both you and her. I think this is a peculiar case — 
I must at least examine into it. Young woman, rise, 
and pass before me into the house." 

With difficulty 1 obeyed him. Presently I stood 
within that clean, bright kitchen — on the very hearth — 
trembling, sickening ; conscious of an aspect in the last 
degree ghastly, wild, and weather-beaten. The two 
ladies, their brother, Mr St John, the old servant, were 
all gazing at me. 

" St John, who is it ? " I heard one ask. 

" I cannot tell : I found her at the door," was the 
reply. 

" She does look white," said Hannah. 

" As white as clay or death," was responded. " She 
will fall : let her sit." 

And indeed my head swam : I dropped ; but a chair 
received me. I still possessed my senses ; though just 
now I could not speak. 

" Perhaps a little water would restore her. Hannah, 
fetch some. But she is worn to nothing. How very 
thin, and how very bloodless ! " 

" A mere spectre ! " 

" Is she ill, or only famished ? " 

" Famished, I think. Hannah, is that milk ? Give 
it me, and a piece of bread." 

Diana (I knew her by the long curls which I saw 
drooping between me and the fire as she bent over me) 
broke some bread, dipped it in milk, and put it to my 
lips. Her face was near mine : I saw there was pity 
in it, and I felt sympathy in her hurried breathing. In 
her simple words, too, the same balm-like emotion 
spoke : " Try to eat." 

" Yes — try," repeated Mary gently ; and Mary's 
hand removed my sodden bonnet and lifted my head. 
I tasted what they offered me ; feebly at first, eagerly 
soon. 



134 JANE EYRE. 

" Not too much at first — restrain her," said the 
brother ; she has had enough." And he withdrew the 
cup of milk and the plate of bread. 

" A little more, St John — look at the avidity in her 
eyes." 

" No more at present, sister. Try it she can speak 
now — ask her her name." 

I felt I could speak, and I answered — " My name is 
Jane Elliott." Anxious as ever to avoid discovery, I 
had before resolved to assume an alias. 

" And where do you live ? Where are your 
friends ? " 

I was silent. 

" Can we send for any one you know ? " 

I shook my head. 

" What account can you give of yourself ? " 

Somehow, now that I had once crossed the threshold 
of this house, and once was brought face to face with 
its owners, I felt no longer outcast, vagrant, and dis- 
owned by the wide world. I dared to put off the 
mendicant — to resume my natural manner and character. 
I began once more to know myself; and when Mr St 
John demanded an account — which at present I was far 
too weak to render — I said after a brief pause, — 

" Sir, I can give you no details to-night." 

" But what, then," said he, " do you expect me to 
do for you ? " 

" Nothing," I replied. My strength sufficed for but 
short answers. Diana took the word : — 

" Do you mean," she asked, " that we have now 
given you what aid you require ? and that we may 
dismiss you to the moor and the rainy night ? " 

I looked at her. She had, I thought, a remaikable 
countenance ; instinct both with power and goodness. 
I took sudden courage. Answering her compassionate 
gaze with a smile, I said : " I will trust you. If I 



ANE EYRE. I35 

were a masterless and stray dog, I know that you would 
not turn me from your hearth to-night : as it is, I really 
have no fear. Do with me and for me as you like ; 
but excuse me from much discourse — my breath is short 
— I feel a spasm when I speak." All three surveyed 
me, and all three were silent. 

"Hannah," said Mr St John, at last, "let her sit 
there at present, and ask her no questions ; in ten 
minutes more, give her the remainder of that milk and 
bread. Mary and Diana, let us go into the parlour and 
talk the matter over." 

They withdrew. Very soon one of the ladies re- 
turned — I could not tell which. A kind of pleasant 
stupor was stealing over me as I sat by the genial fire. 
In an under tone she gave some directions to Hannah. 
Ere long, with the servant's aid, I contrived to mount 
a staircase ; my dripping clothes were removed ; soon, 
a warm, dry bed received me. I thanked God — 
experienced amidst unutterable exhaustion a glow of 
grateful joy — and slept. 



Cljapter r%i%* 

THE recollection ot about three days and nights 
succeeding this is very dim in my mind. I can 
recall some sensations felt in that interval ; but 
few thoughts framed, and no actions performed. I 
knew I was in a small room, and in a narrow bed 
To that bed I seemed to have grown ; I lay on it 
motionless as a stone ; and to have torn me from it 
would have been almost to kill me. I took no note of 
the lapse of time — of the change from morning to noon, 
from noon to evening. I observed when any one 
entered or left the apartment ; I could even tell who 



136 JANE EYRE. 

they were ; I could understand what was said when the 
speaker stood near to me ; but I could not answer ; to 
open my lips or move my limbs was equally impossible. 
Hannah, the servant, was my most frequent visitor. 
Her coming disturbed me. I had a feeling that she 
wished me away : that she did not understand me or 
my circumstances : that she was prejudiced against me. 
Diana and Mary appeared in the chamber once or twice 
a day. They would whisper sentences of this sort at 
my bedside : — 

" It is very well we took her in." 

" Yes ; she would certainly have been found dead at 
the door in the morning, had she been left out all night. 
I wonder what she has gone through ? " 

" Strange hardships, I imagine — poor, emaciated, 
pallid wanderer ! " 

" She is not an uneducated person, I should think, 
by her manner of speaking ; her accent was quite pure ; 
and the clothes she took off, though splashed and wet, 
were little worn and fine." 

" She has a peculiar face ; fleshless and haggard as 
it is, I rather like it ; and when in good health and 
animated, I can fancy her physiognomy would be agree- 
able." 

Never once in their dialogues did I hear a syllable 
of regret at the hospitality they had extended to me ; 
or of suspicion of, or aversion to, myself. I was 
comforted. 

Mr St John came but once : he looked at me, and 
said my state of lethargy was the result of reaction from 
excessive and protracted fatigue. He pronounced it 
needless to send for a doctor : nature, he was sure, would 
manage best, left to herself. He said every nerve had 
been overstrained in some way, and the whole system 
must sleep toipid a while. There was no disease. He 
imagined my recovery would be rapid enough when 



JANE EYRE. I37 

once commenced. These opinions he delivered in a 
few words, in a quiet, low voice ; and added, after a 
pause, in the tone of a man little accustomed to expan- 
sive comment, " rather an unusual physiognomy ; cer- 
tainly, not indicative of vulgarity or degradation." 

" Far otherwise," responded Diana. " To speak 
truth, St John, my heart rather warms to the poor 
little soul. I wish we may be able to benefit her 
permanently." 

<' That is hardly likely," was the reply. " You 
will find she is some young lady who has had a mis- 
understanding with her friends and has probably in- 
judiciously left them. We may, perhaps, succeed in 
restoring her to them, if she is not obstinate : but I 
trace lines of force in her face which make me sceptical 
of her tractability." He stood considering me some 
minutes ; then added, " She looks sensible, but not at 
all handsome." 

" She is so ill, St John." 

" 111 or well, she would always be plain. The grace 
and harmony of beauty are quite wanting in those 
features." 

On the third day, 1 was better ; on the fourth, I 
could speak, move, rise in bed, and turn. Hannah had 
brought me some gruel and dry toast, about, as I sup- 
posed, the dinner hour. I had eaten with relish : the 
food was good — void of the feverish flavour which had 
hitherto poisoned what I had swallowed. When she 
left me, I felt comparatively strong and revived : ere 
long satiety of repose, and desire for action stirred me. 
I wished to rise ; but what could I put on ? Only 
my damp and bemired apparel ; in which I had slept 
on the ground and fallen in the marsh. I felt ashamed 
to appear before my benefactors so clad. I was spared 
tlie humiliation. 

On a chair by the bedside were all my own things, 

\ 



138 JANE EYRE. 

clean and dry. My black silk frock hung against the 
wall. The traces of the bog were removed from it ; 
the creases left by the wet smoothed out : it was quite 
decent. My very shoes and stockings were purified and 
rendered presentable. There were the means of wash- 
ing in the room, and a comb and brush to smooth my 
hair. After a weary process, and resting every five 
minutes I succeeded in dressing myself. My clothes 
hung loose on me ; for I was much wasted, but I 
covered deficiencies with a shawl, and once more, clean 
and respectable-looking — no speck of the dirt, no trace 
of the disorder I so hated, and which seemed so to 
degrade me, left — I crept down a stone staircase with 
the aid of the banisters; to a narrow low passage, and 
found my way presently to the kitchen. 

It was full of the fragrance of new bread, and the 
warmth of a generous fire. Hannah was baking. Pre- 
judices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate 
from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or 
fertilised by education : they grow there, firm as weeds 
among stones. Hannah had been cold and stiff, indeed, 
at the first : latterly she had begun to relent a little ; 
and when she saw me come in tidy and well-dressed, 
she even smiled. 

" What, you have got up ? " she said. " You are 
better, then. You may sit you down in my chair on 
the hearthstone, if you will." 

" She pointed to the rocking chair : I took it. She 
bustled about examining me every now and then with 
the corner of her eye. Turning to me, as she took 
some loaves from the oven, she asked, bluntly — 

" Did you ever go a-begging afore you came here ? " 

I was indignant for a moment ; but remembering 
that anger was out of the question, and that I had 
indeed appeared as a beggar to her, I answered quietly ; 
but still not without a certain marked firmness — 



JANE EYRE. 139 

" You are mistaken in supposing me a beggar. I am 
no beggar ; any more than yourself or your young 
ladies." 

" After a pause, she said, " I dunnut understand 
that : you've like no house, nor no brass, I guess f" 

" The want of house or brass (by which I suppose 
you mean money) does not make a beggar in your sense 
of the word." 

" Are you book-learned ? " she inquired, presently. 

" Yes, very." 

" But you've never been to a boarding-school ! " 

" I was at a boarding-school eight years." 

She opened her eyes wide. " Whatever cannot ye 
keep yourself for, then ? " 

" I have kept myself ; and, I trust, shall keep myself 
again. What are you going to do with these goose- 
berries ? " I inquired, as she brought out a basket of 
the fruit. 

" Mak'em into pies." 

" Give them to me and I'll pick them." 

" Nay ; I dunnut want ye to do nought." 

" But I must do something. Let me have them." 

She consented ; and she even brought me a clean 
towel to spread over my dress, " lest," as she said, " I 
should mucky it." 

" Ye've not been used to sarvant's wark, 1 see by 
your hands," she remarked. " Happen ye've been a 
dressmaker." 

" No, you are wrong. And, now, never mind what 
I have been : don't trouble your head further about me ; 
but tell me the name of the house where we are." 

" Some calls it Marsh End, and some calls it Moor 
House." 

" And the gentleman who lives here is called Mr St 
John ? " 

" Nay ; he doesn't live here : he is only staying a 



14© JANE EYRE. 

while. When he is at home, he is in his own parish 
at Morton." 

" That village a few miles off ? " 

« Aye." 

" And what is he ? " 

" He is a parson." 

I remembered the answer of the old housekeeper at 
the parsonage, when I had asked to see the clergyman. 
" This, then, was his father's residence ? " 

" Aye ; old Mr Rivers lived here, and his father, 
and grandfather, and gurt (great) grandfather afore 
him." 

" The name, then, of that gentleman, is Mr St John 
Rivers ? " 

" Aye ; St John is like his kirstened name." 

" And his sisters are called Diana and Mary 
Rivers ? " 

"Yes." 

" Their father is dead ? " 

" Dead three weeks sin' of a stroke.'* 

" They have no mother ? " 

" The mistress has been dead this mony a year." 

" Have you lived with the family long ? " 

" I've lived here thirty year. I nursed them all 
three." 

" That proves you must have been an honest and 
faithful servant. I will say so much for you, though 
you have had the incivility to call me a beggar." 

She again regarded me with a surprised stare. " I 
believe," she said, " I was quite mista'en in my thoughts 
of you : but there is so mony cheats goes about, you 
mun forgie me." 

" And though," I continued, rather severely, " you 
wished to turn me from the door, on a night when you 
should not have shut out a dog." 

« Well, it was hard : but what can a body do ? I 



JANE EYRE. I41 

thought more o' th' childer nor of mysel : poor things ! 
They 've like nobody to tak' care on 'em but me. I'm 
like to look sharpish." 

I maintained a grave silence for some minutes. 

" You munnut think too hardly of me," she again 
remarked. 

" But 1 do think hardly of you," I said ; " and I'll 
tell you why — not so much because you refused "-.o give 
me shelter, or regarded me as an impostor, as because 
you just now made it a species of reproach that I had 
no 'brass,' and no house. Some of the best people 
that ever lived have been as destitute as I am ; and if 
you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty 
a crime." 

"No more I ought," said she: " Mr St John tells 
me so too ; and I see I wor wrang — but I've clear a 
different notion on you now to what I had. You look 
a raight down dacent little crater." 

" That will do — I forgive you now. Shake hands." 

She put her floury and horny hand into mine ; 
another and heartier smile illumined her rough face ; 
and from that moment we were friends. 

Hannah was evidently fond of talking. While I 
picked the fruit, and she made the paste for the pies, 
she proceeded to give me sundry details about her 
deceased master and mistress, and "the childer," as she 
called the young people. 

Old Mr Rivers, she said, was a plain man enough ; 
but a gentleman, and of as ancient a family as could be 
found. Marsh End had belonged to the Rivers' ever 
since it was a house : and it was, she affirmed, " aboon 
two hundred year old — for all it looked but a small, 
humble place, naught to compare wi' Mr Oliver's grand 
hall down i' Morton Vale. But she could remember 
Bill Oliver's father a journeyman needle-maker ; and 
th' Rivers wor gentry i' thi' owd days 0' th' Henrys, 



142 JANE EYRE. 

as onybody might see by looking into th* registers i' 
Morton Church vestry." Still, she allowed, " the 
owd maister was like other folk — naught mich out o' t' 
common way : stark mad o' shooting, and farming, and 
sich like." The mistress was different. She was a 
great reader, and studied a deal ; and the " bairns " 
had taken after her. There was nothing like them in 
these parts, nor ever had been ; they had liked learning, 
all three, almost from the time they could speak ; and 
they had always been " of a mak' of their own." Mr 
St John, when he grew up, would go to college and be 
a parson ; and the girls, as soon as they left school, 
would seek places as governesses : for they had told her 
their father had some years ago lost a great deal of 
money, by a man he had trusted turning bankrupt ; and 
as he was now not rich enough to give them fortunes, 
they must provide for themselves. They had lived 
very little at home for a long while, and were only come 
now to stay a few weeks on account of their father's 
death : but they did so like Marsh End and Morton, 
and all these moors and hills about. They had been in 
London, and many other grand towns ; but they 
always said there was no place like home ; and then 
they were so agreeable with each other — never fell out 
nor " threaped." She did not know where there was 
such a family for being united. 

Having finished my task of gooseberry picking, I 
asked where the two ladies and their brother were now. 

" Gone over to Morton for a walk ; but they would 
be back in half an hour to tea." 

They returned within the time Hannah had allotted 
them : they entered by the kitchen door. Mr St John, 
when he saw me, merely bowed and passed through ; 
the two ladies stopped : Mary, in a few words, kindly 
and calmly expressed the pleasure she felt in seeing me 
well enough to be able to come down ; Diana took my 
hand : she shook her head at me. 



JANE EYRE, 143 

" You should have waited for my leave to descend," 
she said. " You still look very pale — and so thin ! 
Poor child ! — poor girl ! " 

Diana had a voice toned, to my ear, like the cooing 
of a dove. She possessed eyes whose gaze I delighted 
to encounter. Her whole face seemed to me full of 
charm. Mary's countenance was equally intelligent — 
her features equally pretty : but her expression was 
more reserved ; and her manners, though gentle, more 
distant. Diana looked and spoke with a certain 
authority : she had a will, evidently. It was my 
nature to feel pleasure in yielding to authority sup- 
ported like hers ; and to bend, where my conscience and 
self-respect permitted, to an active will. 

" And what business have you here ? " she continued. 
" It is not your place. Mary and I sit in the kitchen 
sometimes, because at home we like to be free, even to 
licence — but you are a visitor, and must go into the 
parlour." 

" I am very well here." 

" Not at all — with Hannah bustling about and cover- 
ing you with flour." 

" Besides, the fire is too hot for you," intei-posed Maiy. 

" To be sure," added her sister. " Come, you must 
be obedient." And still holding my hand she made me 
rise, and led me into the inner room. 

" Sit there," she said, placing me on the sofa, "while 
we take our things off and get the tea ready ; it is 
another privilege we exercise in our little moorland 
home — to prepare our own meals when we are so in- 
clined ; or when Hannah is baking, brewing, washing, 
or ironing." 

She closed the door, leaving me solus with Mr St 
John, who sat opposite ; a book or newspaper in his 
hand. I examined, first, the parlour, and then its 
occupant. 



144 JANE EYRE. 

The parlour was rather a small room, very plainly 
furnislied ; yet comfortable, because clean and neat. 
The old-fashioned chairs were very bright, and the 
walnut-wood table was like a looking-glass. A few 
strange, antique portraits of the men and women of 
other days decorated the stained walls ; a cupboard with 
glass doors contained some books and an ancient set of 
china. There was no superfluous ornament in the room 
— not one modern piece of furniture, save a brace of 
work-boxes and a lady's desk in rosewood, which stood 
on a side-table : everything — including the carpet and 
curtains — looked at once well worn and well saved. 

Mr St John — sitting as still as one of the dusky 
pictures on the walls ; keeping his eyes fixed on the 
page he perused, and his lips mutely sealed — was easy 
enough to examine. Had he been a statue instead of a 
man, he could not have been easier. He was young — 
perhaps from twenty-eight to thirty — tall, slender ; his 
face riveted the eye ; it was like a Greek face, very pure 
in outline : quite a straight, classic nose ; quite an 
Athenian mouth and chin. It is seldom, indeed, an 
English face comes so near the antique models as did 
his. He might well be a little shocked at the irregu- 
larity of my lineaments, his own being so harmonious. 
His eyes were large and blue, with brown lashes ; his 
high forehead, colourless as ivory, was partially streaked 
over by careless locks of fair hair. 

This is a gentle delineation, is it not, reader ? Yet he 
whom it describes scarcely impressed one with the idea 
of a gentle, a yielding, an impressible, or even of a placid 
nature. Quiescent as he now sat, there was something 
about his nostril, his mouth, his brow, which, to my per- 
ceptions, indicated elements within either restless, or hard, 
or eager. He did not speak to me one word nor even 
direct to me one glance, till his sisters returned. Diana, 
as she passed in and out, in the course of preparing tea, 



JANE EYRE. I45 

brought me a little cake, baked on the top of the 
oven. 

" Eat that now," she said ; " you must be hungry. 
Hannah says you have had nothing but some gruel since 
breakfast." 

I did not refuse it, for my appetite was awakened 
and keen. Mr Rivers now closed his book, approached 
the table, and, as he took a seat, fixed his blue 
pictorial-looking eyes full on me. There was an un- 
ceremonious directness, a searching, decided steadfast- 
ness in his gaze now, which told that intention, and not 
diffidence, had hitherto kept it averted from the stranger. 

" You are very hungry," he said. 

" I am, sir." It is my way — it always was my way, 
by instinct — ever to meet the brief with brevity, the 
direct with plainness. 

" It is well for you that a low fever has forced you 
to abstain for the last three days : there would have been 
danger in yielding to the cravings of your appetite at first. 
Now you may eat ; though still not immoderately." 

" I trust I shall not eat long at your expense, sir," 
was my very clumsily-contrived, unpolished answer. 

" No," he said, coolly : *' when you have indicated 
to us the residence of your friends, we can write to 
them, and you may be restored to home." 

" That, 1 must plainly tell you is out of my power 
to do ; being absolutely without home and friends." 

The three looked at me ; but not distrustfully ; I felt 
there was no suspicion in their glances : there was more 
of curiosity. I speak particularly of the young ladies. 
St John's eyes, though clear enough in a literal sense, in 
a figurative one were difficult to fathom. He seemed 
to use them rather as instruments to search other people's 
thoughts, than as agents to reveal his own : the which 
combination of keenness and reserve was considerably 
more calculated to embarrass than to encourage. 

II. K 



146 JANE EYRE. 

" Do you mean to say," he asked, " that you are 
completely isolated from every connection ? " 

" I do. Not a tie links me to any living thing : not 
a claim do I possess to admittance under any roof in 
England." 

" A most singular position at your age ! " 

Here I saw his glance directed to my hands, which 
were folded on the table before mc. I wondered what 
he sought there : his words soon explained the quest. 

" You have never been married ? You are a spinster ?" 

Diana laughed. " Why, she can't be above seven- 
teen or eighteen years old, St John," said she. 

" I am near nineteen : but I am not married. No." 

I felt a burning glow mount to my face ; for bitter 
and agitating recollections were awakened by the allu- 
sion to marriage. They all saw the embarrassment, 
and the emotion. Diana and Mary relieved me by 
turning their eyes elsewhere than to my crimsoned 
visage ; but the colder and sterner brother continued to 
gaze, till the trouble he had excited forced out tears as 
well as colour. 

" Where did you last reside ? " he now asked. 

" You are too inquisitive, St John," murmured Mary, 
in a low voice ; but he leaned over the table and re- 
quired an answer, by a second firm and piercing 
look. 

" The name of the place where, and of the person 
with whom I lived, is my secret," I replied, concisely. 

" Which, if you like, you have, in my opinion, a 
right to keep, both from St John and every other 
questioner," remarked Diana. 

" Yet if I know nothing about you or your history, 
I cannot help you," he said. " And you need help : 
do you not ? " 

" I need it, and I seek it ; so far, sir, that some true 
philanthropist will put me in the way of getting work 



JANE EYRE. I47 

which I can do, and the remuneration for which will 
keep me : if but in the barest necessaries of life." 

" I know not whether I am a true philanthropist ; 
yet I am willing to aid you to the utmost of my power, 
in a purpose so honest. First, then, tell me what you 
have been accustomed to do, and what you can do." 

I had now swallowed my tea. I was mightily re- 
freshed by the beverage ; as much so as a giant with 
wine : it gave new tone to my unstrung nerves, and 
enabled me to address this penetrating young judge 
steadily. 

" Mr Rivers," I said, turning to him, and looking at 
him, as he looked at me openly and without diffidence, 
*' you and your sisters have done me a great service 
— the greatest man can do his fellow-being ; you 
have rescued me, by your noble hospitality, from death. 
This benefit conferred gives you an unlimited claim on 
my gratitude ; and a claim to a certain extent, on my 
confidence. I will tell you as much of the history of 
the wanderer you have harboured, as I can tell without 
compromising my own peace of mind — my own secu- 
rity, moral and physical, and that of others. 

" I am an oiphan ; the daughter of a clergyman. 
My parents died before 1 could know them. I was 
brought up a dependant ; educated in a charitable insti- 
tution. I will even tell you the name of the establish- 
ment, where I passed six years as a pupil, and two as a 

teacher — Lowood Oi-phan Asylum, shire : you 

will have heard of it, Mr Rivers ? — the Rev. Robert 
Brocklehurst is the treasurer." 

" I have heard of Mr Brocklehurst, and I have seen 
the school." 

" I left Lowood nearly a year since to become a 
private governess. I obtained a good situation, and was 
happy. This place I was obliged to leave four days 
before I came here. The reason of my departure 1 



148 JANE EYRE. 

cannot and ought not to explain : it would be useless — 
dangerous ; and would sound incredible. No blame 
attached to me : I am as free from culpability as any one 
of you three. Miserable I am, and must be for a time ; 
for the catastrophe which drove me from a house I had 
found a paradise was of a strange and direful nature. I 
observed but two points in planning my departure — 
speed, secrecy : to secure these, I had to leave behind 
me everything 1 possessed except a small parcel ; 
which, in my hurry and trouble of mind, I forgot to 
take out of the coach that brought me to Whitcross. 
To this neighbourhood, then, I came, quite destitute. I 
slept two nights in the open air, and wandered about two 
days without crossing a threshold : but twice in that space 
of time did I taste food ; and it was when brought by 
hunger, exhaustion, and despair, almost to the last gasp, 
that you, Mr Rivers, forbade me to perish of want at 
your door, and took me under the shelter of your roof. 
I know all your sisters have done for me since — for I 
have not been insensible during my seeming torpor — 
and I owe to their spontaneous, genuine, genial com- 
passion, as large a debt as to your evangelical chaiity." 

" Don't make her talk any more now, St John," 
said Diana, as I paused ; " she is evidently not yet fit 
for excitement. Come to the sofa, and sit down now, 
Miss Elliott." 

I gave an involuntary half-start at hearing the alias : 
I had forgotten my new name. Mr Rivers, whom 
nothing seemed to escape, noticed it at once. 

" You said your name was Jane Elliott ? " he 
observed. 

" I did say so ; and it is the name by which I think 
it expedient to be called at present : but it is not my 
real name, and when I hear it, it sounds strange to 
me." 

" Your real name you will not give i '* 



JANE EYRE. 1 49 

" No : I fear dlscoveiy above all things ; and what- 
ever disclosure would lead to it, I avoid." 

" You are quite right, I am sure," said Diana. 
" Now do, brother, let her be at peace awhile." 

But when St John had mused a few moments, he 
recommenced, as imperturbably, and with as much 
acumen as ever. 

" You would not like to be long dependent on our 
hospitality — you would wish, I see, to dispense as soon 
as may be with my sisters' compassion ; and, above all, 
with my charity (I am quite sensible of the distinction 
drawn, nor do I resent it — it is just) : you desire to be 
independent of us ? " 

" I do : I have already said so. Show me how to 
work, or how to seek work : that is all I now ask ; 
then let me go, if it be but to the meanest cottage — but 
till then, allow me to stay here : I dread another essay 
of the horrors of homeless destitution." 

" Indeed, you shall stay here," said Diana, putting 
her white hand on my head. " You shall," repeated 
Mary, in the tone of undemonstrative sincerity, which 
seemed natural to her. 

" My sisters, you see, have a pleasure in keeping 
you," said Mr St John, " as they would have a pleasure 
in keeping and cherishing a half-frozen bird, some 
wintry wind might have driven tlirough their casement. 
/ feel more inclination to put you in the way of keeping 
yourself: and shall endeavour to do so: but observe, 
my sphere is narrow. I am but the incumbent of a 
poor country parish : my aid must be of the humblest 
sort. And if you are inclined to despise the day of 
small things, seek some more efficient succour than such 
as I can offer." 

" She has already said that she is willing to do any- 
thing honest she can do," answered Diana, for me ; 
"and you know, St John, she has no choice of 



150 JANE EYRE. 

helpers : she is forced to put up with such crusty people 
as you." 

" I will be a dressmaker : I will be a plain work- 
woman ; I will be a servant, a nurse-girl, if I can be 
no better," I answered. 

" Right," said Mr St John, quite coolly. " If such 
is your spirit, I promise to aid you ; in my own time 
and way." 

He now resumed the book with which he had been 
occupied before tea. I soon withdrew ; for I had 
talked as much, and sat up as long, as my present 
strength would permit. 



Cl)apter jcjcjc, 

THE more I knew of the inmates of Moor House, 
the better I liked them. In a few days I had so 
far recovered my health that I could sit up all 
day, and walk out sometimes. I could join with Diana 
and Mary in all their occupations ; converse with them 
as much as they wished, and aid them when and where 
they would allow me. There was a reviving pleasure 
in this intercourse, of a kind now tasted by me for the 
first time — the pleasure arising from perfect congeniality 
of tastes, sentiments, and principles. 

I liked to read what they liked to read : what they 
enjoyed, delighted me ; what they approved, I rever- 
enced. They loved their sequestered home. I, too, 
in the grey, small, antique structure, with its low roof, 
its latticed casements, its mouldering walls, its avenue of 
aged firs — all grown aslant under the stress of mountain 
winds ; its garden, dark with yew and holly — and 
where no flowers but of the hardiest species would 
bloom — found a charm both potent and permanent. 



JANE EYRE. 151 

They clung to the purple moors behind" and around 
their dweJhng — to the hollow vale into which the 
pebbly bridle-path leading from their gate descended ; 
and which wound between fern-banks first, and then 
amongst a few of the wildest little pasture-fields that 
ever bordered a wilderness of heath, or gave sustenance 
to a flock of grey moorland sheep, with their little 
mossy-faced lambs : — they clung to this scene, I say, 
with a perfect enthusiasm of attachment. I could com- 
prehend the feeling, and share both its strength and 
truth. I saw the fascination of the locality. I felt the 
consecration of its loneliness : my eye feasted on the 
outline of swell and sweep — on the wild colouring com- 
municated to ridge and dell, by moss, by heath-bell, by 
flower-sprinkled turf, by brilliant bracken, and mellow 
granite crag. These details were just to me what they 
were to them — so many pure and sweet sources of 
pleasure. The strong blast and the soft breeze ; the 
rough and the halcyon day ; the hours of sunrise and 
sunset ; the moonlight and the clouded night, developed 
for me, in these regions, the same attraction as for them 
— wound round my faculties the same spell that en- 
tranced theirs. 

In-doors we agreed equally well. They were both 
more accomplished and better read than I was : but with 
eagerness I followed in the path of knowledge they had 
trodden before me. I devoured the books they lent 
me : then it was full satisfaction to discuss with them 
in the evening what I had perused during the day. 
Thought fitted thought; opinion met opinion : we coin- 
cided, in short, perfectly. 

If in our trio there was a superior and a leader, it was 
Diana. Physically, she far excelled me : she was hand- 
some ; she was vigorous. In her animal spirits, there 
was an affluence of life, and certainty of flow, such as 
excited my wonder, while it baffled my comprehension. 



152 JANE EYRE. 

I could talk a while when the evening commenced : but 
the first gush of vivacity and fluency gone, I was fain 
to sit on a stool at Diana's feet, to rest my head on her 
knee, and listen alternately to her and Mary ; while they 
sounded thoroughly the topic on which I had but 
touched. Diana offered to teach me German. I liked 
to learn of her : I saw the part of instructress pleased 
and suited her ; that of scholar pleased and suited me 
no less. Our natures dovetailed : mutual affection — of 
the strongest kind — was the result. They discovered I 
could draw : their pencils and colour-boxes were im- 
mediately at my service. My skill, greater in this one 
point than theirs, sui"prised and charmed them. Mary 
would sit and watch me by the hour together: then she 
would take lessons ; and a docile, intelligent, assiduous 
pupil, she made. Thus occupied, and mutually enter- 
tained, days passed like hours, and weeks like 
days. 

As to Mr St John, the intimacy which had arisen so 
naturally and rapidly between me and his sisters, did not 
extend to him. One reason of the distance yet observed 
between us was, that he was comparatively seldom at 
home : a large proportion of his time appeared devoted to 
visiting the sick and poor among the scattered popula- 
tion of his parish. 

No weather seemed to hinder him in these pastoral 
excursions : rain or fair, he would, when his hours of 
morning study were over, take his hat, and, followed by 
his father's old pointer, Carlo, go out on his mission of 
love or duty — I scarcely know in which light he re- 
garded it. Sometimes, when the day was very un- 
favourable, his sisters would expostulate. He would 
then say, with a peculiar smile, more solemn than 
cheerful, — 

" And if I let a gust of wind or a sprinkling of rain 
turn me aside from these easy tasks, what preparation 



JANE EVRE. 153 

would such sloth be for tlie future I propose to 
myself?" 

Diana and Mary's general answer to this question 
was a sigh, and some minutes of apparently mournful 
meditation. 

But besides his frequent absences, there was another 
barrier to friendship with him : he seemed of a reserved, 
an abstracted, and even of a broDding nature. Zealous 
in his ministerial labours, blameless in his life and 
habits, he yet did not appear to enjoy that mental 
serenity, that inward content, which should be the 
reward of every sincere Christian and practical philan- 
thropist. Often, of an evening, when he sat at the 
window, his desk and papers before him, he would cease 
reading or writing, rest his chin on his hand, and deliver 
himself up to I know not what course of thought : but 
that it was perturbed and exciting might be seen in the 
frequent flash and changeful dilation of his eye. 

I think, moreover, that Nature was not to him that 
treasury of delight it was to his sisters. He expressed 
once, and but once in my hearing, a strong sense of the 
rugged charm of the hills, and an inborn affection for the 
dark roof and hoary walls he called his home : but there 
was more of gloom than pleasure in the tone and words 
in which the sentiment was manifested ; and never did 
he seem to roam the moors for the sake of their sooth- 
ing silence — never seek out or dwell upon the thousand 
peaceful delights they could yield- 
Incommunicative as he was, some time elapsed before 
I had an opportunity of gauging his mind. I first got 
an idea of its calibre when I heard him preach in his 
own church at Morton. I wish I could describe that 
sermon : but it is past my power. I cannot even render 
faithfully the effect it produced on me. 

It began calm — and indeed, as far as delivery and 
pitch of voice went, it was calm to the end : an earnestly 



154 JANE EYRE. 

felt, yet strictly restrained zeal breathed soon in the dis- 
tinct accents, and prompted the nervous language. 
This grew to force — compressed, condensed, controlled. 
The heart was thrilled, the mind astonished, by the 
powerof the preacher: neither were softened. Through- 
out there was a strange bitterness ; an absence of con- 
solatory gentleness; stern allusions to Calvinistic doctrines 
— election, predestination, reprobation — were frequent ; 
and each reference to these points sounded like a sentence 
pronounced for doom. When he had done, instead of 
feeling better, calmer, more enlightened by his discourse, 
I experienced an inexpressible sadness ; for it seemed to 
me — I know not whether equally so to others — that the 
eloquence to which I had been listening had sprung 
from a depth where lay turbid dregs of disappointment 
— where moved troubling impulses of insatiate yearnings 
and disquieting aspirations. I was sure St John Rivers 
— pure-lived, conscientious, zealous as he was — had not 
yet found that peace of God which passeth all under- 
standing : he had no more found it, I thought, than had 
I ; with my concealed and racking regrets for my 
broken idol and lost elysium — regrets to which I have 
latterly avoided referring ; but which possessed me and 
tyrannised over me ruthlessly. 

Meantime a month was gone. Diana and Mary were 
soon tc leave Moor House, and return to the far differ- 
ent life and acene which awaited them, as governesses 
in a large, fashionable, south-of-England city ; where 
each held a situation in families, by whose wealthy and 
haughty members they were regarded only as humble 
dependants, and who neither knew nor sought one of 
their innate excellences, and appreciated only their ac- 
quired accomplishments as they appreciated the skill ot 
their cook, or the taste of their waiting-woman. Mr 
St John had said nothing to me yet about the employ- 
ment he had promised to obtain for me ; yet it became 



JANE EYRE. 155 

urgent that I should have a vocation of some kind. 
One morning, being left alone with him a few minutes 
in the parlour, I ventured to approach the window-recess 
— which his table, chair, and desk consecrated as a kind 
of study — and I was going to speak ; though not very 
well knowing in what words to frame my inquiry — for 
it is at all times difficult to break the ice of reserve 
glassing over such natures as his — when he saved me 
the trouble, by being the first to commence a dialogue. 

Looking up as I drew near — " You have a question 
to ask of me ? " he said. 

" Yes ; I wish to know whether you have heard of 
any service I can offer myself to undertake." 

" I found or devised something for you three weeks 
ago ; but as you seemed both useful and happy here — 
as my sisters had evidently become attached to you, and 
your society gave them unusual pleasure — I deemed it 
inexpedient to break in on your mutual comfort, till 
their approaching departure from Marsh End should 
render yours necessary." 

" And they will go in three days now ? " 1 said. 

" Yes ; and when they go, I shall return to the par- 
sonage at Morton : Hannah will accompany me ; and 
this old house will be shut up." 

I waited a few moments, expecting he would go on 
with the subject first broached : but he seemed to have 
entered another train of reflection : his look denoted 
abstraction from me and my business. I was obliged to 
recall him to a theme which was of necessity one of 
close and anxious interest to me. 

" What is the employment you had in view, Mr 
Rivers i I hope this delay will not have increased the 
difficulty of securing it." 

" Oh, no ; since it is an employment which depends 
only on me to give, and you to accept." 

He again paused : there seemed a reluctance to con- 



156 JANE EYRE. 

tiniic. I grew impatient : a restless movement or two, 
and an eager and exacting glance fastened on his face, 
conveyed the feeling to him as effectually as words 
could have done, and with less trouble. 

" You need be in no hurry to hear," he said : " let 
me frankly tell you, I have nothing eligible or profitable 
to suggest. Before I explain, recall, if you please, my 
notice, clearly given, that if I helped you, it must be 
as the blind man would help the lame. I am poor ; 
for I find that, when I have paid my father's debts, all 
the patrimony remaining to me will be this crumbling 
grange, the row of scathed firs behind, and the patch of 
moorish soil, with the yew-trees and holly-bushes in 
front. I am obscure : Rivers is an old name ; but of 
the three sole descendants of the race, two earn the 
dependant's crust among strangers, and the third con- 
siders himself an alien from his native country — not 
only for life, but in death. Yes, and deems, and is 
bound to deem, himself honoured by the lot, and aspires 
but after the day when the cross of separation from 
fleshly ties shall be laid on his shoulders, and when the 
Head of that church-militant of whose humblest 
members he is one, shall give the word, ' Rise, follow 
me ! '" 

St John said these words as he pronounced his 
sermons, with a quiet, deep voice ; with an unflushed 
cheek, and a coruscating radiance of glance. He 
resumed : — 

" And since I am myself poor and obscure, I can 
offer you but a service of poverty and obscurity. Tou 
may even think it degradiug — for I see now your habits 
have been what the world calls refined : your tastes 
lean to the ideal ; and your society has at least been 
amongst the educated — but / consider that no service 
degrades which can better our race. I hold that the 
more arid and unreclaimed the soil where the Christian 



JANE EYRE. I57 

labourer's task of tillage is appointed him — the scantier 
the meed his toil brings — the higher the honour. His, 
under such circumstances, is the destiny of the pioneer ; 
and the first pioneers of the Gospel were the Apostles 
— their captain was Jesus, the Redeemer himself." 

" Well ? " I said, as he again paused — " proceed." 

He looked at me before he proceeded : indeed, he 
seemed leisurely to read my face, as if its features and 
lines were characters on a page. The conclusions 
drawn from this scrutiny he partially expressed in his 
succeeding observations. 

" I believe you will accept the post 1 offer you," 
said he ; " and hold it for a while : not permanently, 
though : any more than I could permanently keep the 
narrow and narrowing— the tranquil, hidden office of 
English country incumbent : for in your nature is an 
alloy as detrimental to repose as that in mine ; though 
of a different kind." 

" Do explain," I urged, when he halted once more. 

" I will ; and you shall hear how poor the proposal 
is, — how trivial — how cramping. I shall not stay 
long at Morton, now that my father is dead, and that 
I am my own master. I shall leave the place probably 
in the course of a twelvemonth: but while I do stay, 
I will exert myself to the utmost for its improvement. 
Morton, when I came to it two years ago, had no 
school : the children of the poor were excluded from 
every hope of progress. I established one for boys : 
I mean now to open a second school for girls. I have 
hired a building for the puqiose, with a cottage of two 
rooms attached to it for the mistress's house. Her 
salary will be thirty pounds a year : her house is 
already furnished, very simply, but sufficiently, by the 
kindness of a lady. Miss Oliver ; tlie only daughter of 
the sole rich man in my parish — Mr Oliver, the pro- 
prietor of a needle-factory and iron-foundry in the 



158 JANE EYRE. 

valley. The same lady pays for the education and 
clothing of an orphan from the workhouse ; on condi- 
tion that she shall aid the mistress in such menial offices 
connected with her own house and the school, as her 
occupation of teaching will prevent her having time to 
discharge in person. Will you be this mistress ? " 

He put the question rather hurriedly ; he seemed half 
to expect an indignant, or at least a disdainful rejection 
of the offer : not knowing all my thoughts and feelings, 
though guessing some, he could not tell in what light the 
lot would appear to me. In truth it was humble — but 
then it was sheltered, and I wanted a safe asylum : it was 
plodding — but then, compared with that of a governess in 
a rich house, it was independent ; and the fear of servi- 
tude with strangers entered my soul like iron : it was 
not ignoble — not unworthy — not mentally degrading. 
I made my decision. 

" I thank you for the proposal, Mr Rivers ; and I 
accept it with all my heart." 

" But you comprehend me ? " he said. " It is a 
village school : your scholars will be only poor girls — 
cottagers' children — at the best, farmers' daughters. Knit- 
ting, sewing, reading, writing, cyphering, will be all you 
will have to teach. What will you do with your 
accomplishments ? What, with the largest portion of 
your mind — sentiments — tastes ? " 

" Save them till they are wanted. They will keep." 

" You know what you undertake, then ? " 

« I do." 

He now smiled : and not a bitter or a sad smile ; but 
one well pleased and deeply gratified. 

" And when will you commence the exercise of your 
function ? " 

" I will go to my house to-morrow ; and open the 
school, if you like, next week." 

" Very well : so be it." 



JANE EYRE. 1 59 

He rose and walked through the room. Standing 
still, he again looked at me. He shook his head. 

" What do you disapprove of, Mr Rivers ? " I asked. 

" You will not stay at Morton long : no, no ! " 

" Why ! What is your reason for saying so ? " 

" I read it in your eye ; it is not of that description 
which promises the maintenance of an even tenor in 
life." 

" I am not ambitious." 

He started at the word " ambitious." He repeated, 
" No. What made you think of ambition ? Who is 
ambitious? I know I am: but how did you find it 
out ? " 

" I was speaking of myself." 

" Well, if you are not ambitious, you are " He 

paused. 

" What ? " 

" I was going to say, impassioned : but perhaps you 
would have misunderstood the word, and been dis- 
pleased. I mean, that human affections and sympathies 
have a most powerful hold on you. I am sure you 
cannot long be content to pass your leisure in solitude, 
and to devote your working hours to a monotonous 
labour wholly void of stimulus ; any more than I can 
be content," he added, with emphasis, " to live here 
buried in morass, pent in with mountain — my nature, 
that God gave me, contravened ; my faculties, heaven- 
bestowed, paralysed — made useless. You hear now how 
I contradict myself. I, who preached contentment with 
a humble lot, and justified the vocation even of hewers 
of wood, and drawers of water, in God's service — I, 
his ordained minister, almost rave in my restlessness. 
Well, propensities and principles must be reconciled by 
some means." 

He left the room. In this brief hour I had learnt 
more of him than in the whole previous month : yet still 
he puzzled me. 



l6o JANE EYRE. 

Diana and Mary Rivers became more sad and silent 
as the day approached for leaving their brother, and 
their home. They both tried to appear as usual ; but 
the sorrow they had to struggle against was one that 
could not be entirely conquered or concealed. Diana 
intimated that this would be a different parting from any 
they had ever yet known. It would probably, as far as 
St John was concerned, be a parting for years: it might 
be a parting for life. 

" He will sacrifice all to his long-framed resolves," 
she said : " natural affection and feelings more potent 
still. St John looks quiet, Jane ; but he hides a fever 
in his vitals. You would think him gentle, yet in some 
things he is inexorable as death ; and the worst of it is, 
my conscience will hardly permit me to dissuade him 
from his severe decision : certainly, I cannot for a 
moment blame him for it. It is right, noble. Christian : 
yet it breaks my heart." And the tears gushed to her 
fine eyes. Mary bent her head low over her work. 

" We are now without father : we shall soon be with- 
out home and brother," she murmured. 

At that moment a little accident supervened, which 
seemed decreed by fate, purposely to prove the truth 
of the adage, that " misfortunes never come singly : " 
and to add to their distresses the vexing one of the slip 
between the cup and the lip. St John passed the 
window reading a letter. He entered. 

" Our uncle John is dead," said he. 

Both the sisters seemed struck : not shocked or ap- 
palled ; the tidings appeared in their eyes rather momen- 
tous than afflicting. 

" Dead ? " repeated Diana. 

" Yes." 

She riveted a searching gaze on her brother's face. 
" And what then ? " she demanded, in a low voice. 

" What then, Die ? " he replied, maintaining a 



JANE EYRE. l6l 

marble immobility of feature. " What then ? Why — 
nothing. Read." 

He threw the letter into her lap. She glanced over 
it, and handed it to Mary. Mary perused it in silence, 
and returned it to her brother. All three looked at 
each other, and all three smiled — a dreary, pensive 
smile enough. 

" Amen ! We can yet live," said Diana, at last. 
" At any rate, it makes us no worse off than we were 
before," remarked Mary. 

" Only it forces rather strongly on the mind the 

picture of what might have heen^^ said Mr Rivers ; 

"and contrasts it somewhat too vividly with what is.'" 

He folded the letter, locked it in his desk, and again 

went out. 

For some minutes no one spoke. Diana then turned 
to me. 

"Jane, you will wonder at us and our mysteries," 
she said ; " and think us hard-hearted beings not to be 
more moved at the death of so near a relation as an 
uncle ; but we have never seen him or known him. 
He was my mother's brother. My father and he 
quarrelled long ago. It was by his advice that my 
father risked most of his property in the speculation 
that ruined him. Mutual recrimination passed between 
them : they parted in anger, and were never reconciled. 
My uncle engaged afterwards in more prosperous 
undertakings : it appears he realised a fortune of twenty 
thousand pounds. He was never married, and had no 
near kindred but ourselves, and one other person, not 
more closely related than we. My father always 
cherished the idea that he would atone for his error, 
by leaving his possessions to us ; that letter informs us 
that he has bequeathed every penny to the other 
relation ; with fhe exception of thirty guineas, to be 
divided between St John, Diana, and Mary Rivers, for 
II. L 



I 62 JANE EYRE. 

the purchase of three mourning rings. He had a right, 
of course, to do as he pleased : and yet a momentary 
damp is cast on the spirits by the receipt of such news. 
Mary and 1 would have esteemed ourselves rich with a 
thousand pounds each ; and to St John such a sum 
would have been valuable, for the good it would have 
enabled him to do." 

This explanation given, the subject was dropped, and 
no further reference made to it, by either Mr Rivers or 
his sisters. The next day, I left Marsh End for 
Morton. The day after, Diana and Mary quitted it 

for distant B . In a week, Mr Rivers and Hannah 

repaired to the parsonage : and so the old grange was 
abandoned. 



Cljaptcr nxj, 

MY home, then, — when I at last find a home, — is 
a cottage : a little room with white-washed 
walls, and a sanded floor ; containing four 
painted chairs and a table, a clock, a cupboard, with 
two or three plates and dishes, and a set of tea-things 
in delf. Above, a chamber of the same dimensions as 
the kitchen, with a deal bedstead, and chest of drawers ; 
small, yet too large to be filled with my scanty ward- 
robe : though the kindness of my gentle and generous 
friends has increased that, by a modest stock of such 
things as are necessary. 

It is evening. I have dismissed, with the fee of an 
orange, the little orphan who serves me as a handmaid. I 
am sitting alone on the hearth. This morning, the 
village school opened. I had twenty scholars. But 
three of the number can read : none write or cypher. 
Several knit, and a few sew a little. They speak with 
the broadest accent of the district. At present, they 



JANE EYRE. 1 63 

and I have a difficulty in understanding each other's 
language. Some of them are unmannered, rough, in- 
tractable, as well as ignorant ; but others are docile, 
have a wish to learn, and evince a disposition that 
pleases me. I must not forget that these coarsely-clad 
little peasants are of flesh and blood as good as the 
scions of gentlest genealogy ; and that the germs of 
native excellence, refinement, intelligence, kind feeling, 
are as likely to exist in their hearts as in those of the 
best-born. My duty will be to develop these germs : 
surely I shall find some happiness in discharging that 
office. Much enjoyment I do not expect in the life 
opening before me : yet it will, doubtless, if 1 regulate 
my mind, and exert my powers as I ought, yield me 
enough to live on from day to day. 

Was I very gleeful, settled, content, during the hours 
I passed in yonder bare, humble school-room this 
morning and afternoon ? Not to deceive myself, I 
must reply — No : I felt desolate to a degree. I felt — 
yes, idiot that I am — I felt degraded. I doubted I 
had taken a step which sank instead of raising me in the 
scale of social existence. I was weakly dismayed at 
the ignorance, the poverty, the coarseness of all I heard 
and saw round me. But let me not hate and despise 
myself too much for these feelings : I know them to be 
wrong — that is a great step gained ; I shall strive to 
overcome them. To-morrow, I trust, I shall get the 
better of them partially ; and in a few weeks, perhaps, 
they will be quite subdued. In a few months, it is 
possible, the happiness of seeing progress, and a change 
for the better in my scholars, may substitute gratifi- 
cation for disgust. 

Meantime, let me ask myself one question — Which is 
better ? — To have surrendered to temptation ; listened 
to passion ; made no painful effiart — no struggle ; — but 
to have sunk down in the silken snare ; fallen asleep on 



164 JANE EYRE. 

the flowers covering it ; wakened in a southern clime, 
amongst the luxuries of a pleasure villa : to have been 
now living in France, Mr Rochester's mistress ; deliri- 
ous with his love half my time — for he would — oh, yes, 
he would have loved me well for a while. He did love 
me — no one will ever love me so again. I shall never 
more know the sweet homage given to beauty, youth, 
and grace — for never to any one else shall I seem to 
possess these charms. He was fond and proud of me — 
it is what no man besides will ever be. — But where am 
I wandering, and what am I saying ; and, above all, 
feeling ? Whether is it better, I ask, to be a slave in a 
fool's paradise at Marseilles — fevered with delusive bliss 
one hour — suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse 
and shame the next — or to be a village-schoolmistress, 
free and honest, in a breezy mountain nook in the healthy 
heart of England ? 

Yes ; I feel now that I was right when I adhered to 
principle and law, and scorned and crushed the insane 
promptings of a frenzied moment. God directed me 
to a correct choice : I thank His providence for the 
guidance ! 

Having brought my eventide musings to this point, I 
rose, went to my door, and looked at the sunset of the 
harvest-day, and at the quiet fields before my cottage ; 
which, with the school, was distant half a mile from 
the village. The birds were singing their last strains — 

" The air was mild ; the dew was balm." 

While I looked, I thought myself happy, and was sur- 
prised to find myself ere long weeping — and why ? For 
the doom which had reft me from adhesion to my 
master : for him I was no more to see ; for the desperate 
grief and fatal fury — consequences of my departure — 
which might now, perhaps, be dragging him from the 
path of right, too far to leave hope of ultimate restora- 



JANE EYRE. 165 

ti'on thither. At this thought, I turned my face aside 
from the lovely sky of eve and lonely vale of Morton — 
I say lonely, for in that bend of it visible to me, there 
was no building apparent save the church and the par- 
sonage, half-hid in trees ; and, quite at the extremity, 
the roof of Vale Hall, where the rich Mr Oliver and 
his daughter lived. I hid my eyes, and leant my head 
against the stone frame of my door ; but soon a slight 
noise near the wicket which shut in my tiny garden from 
the meadow beyond it, made me look up. A dog — 
old Carlo, Mr Rivers' pointer, as I saw in a moment — 
was pushing the gate with his nose, and St John himself 
leant upon it with folded arms ; his brow knit, his gaze, 
grave almost to displeasure, fixed on me. I asked him 
to come in. 

" No, I cannot stay ; I have only brought you a little 
parcel my sisters left for you. I think it contains a 
colour-box, pencils, and paper." 

I approached to take it : a welcome gift it was. He 
examined my face, I thought, with austerity, as I came 
near : the traces of tears were doubtless very visible 
upon it. 

" Have you found your first day's work harder than 
you expected ?" he asked. 

" Oh, no ! On the contrary, I think in time I shall 
get on with my scholars very well." 

" But perhaps your accommodations — your cottage 
— your furniture — have disappointed your expectations ? 

They are, in truth, scanty enough ; but " I 

interrupted : — 

" My cottage is clean and weather-proof; my furniture 
sufficient and commodious. All I see has made me 
thankful, not despondent. I am not absolutely such a 
fool and sensualist as to regret the absence of a carpet, 
a sofa, and silver plate : besides, five weeks ago I had 
nothing — I was an outcast, a beggar, a vagrant ; now I 



1 66 JANE EYRE. 

have acquaintance, a home, a business. I wonder at 
the goodness of God ; the generosity of: my friends ; 
the bounty of my lot. I do not repine." 

" But you feel solitude an oppression ? The little 
house there behind you is dark and empty." 

" I have hardly had time yet to enjoy a sense of 
tranquillity, much less to grow impatient under one of 
loneliness." 

" Very well ; I hope you feel the content you ex- 
press : at any rate, your good sense will tell you that it is 
too soon yet to yield to the vacillating fears of Lot's 
wife. What you had left before I saw you, of course 
I do not know ; but I counsel you to resist, firmly, every 
temptation which would incline you to look back : pur- 
sue your present career steadily, for some months at 
least." 

" It is what I mean to do," I answered. St John 
continued : — 

" It is hard work to control the workings of inclina- 
tion, and turn the bent of nature : but that it may be 
done, I know from experience. God has given us, in 
a measure, the power to make our own fate ; and when 
our energies seem to demand a sustenance they cannot 
get — when our will strains after a path we may not 
follow — we need neither starve from inanition, nor stand 
still in despair : we have but to seek another nourish- 
ment for the mind, as strong as the forbidden food it 
longed to taste — and perhaps purer ; and to hew out 
for the adventurous foot a road as direct and broad as 
the one Fortune has blocked up against us, if rougher 
than it. 

" A year ago, I was myself intensely miserable, be- 
cause I thought I had made a mistake in entering the 
ministry : its uniform duties wearied me to death. I 
burnt for the more active life of tlie world — for the 
more exciting toils of a literary career — for the destiny 



JANE EYRE. 167 

of an artist, author, orator ; anything rather than that of 
a priest : yes, the heart of a politician, of a soldier, of a 
votary of glory, a lover of renown, a luster after power, 
beat under my curate's surplice. I considered ; my life 
was so wretched, it must be changed, or I must die. 
After a season of darkness and struggling, light broke 
and relief fell : my cramped existence all at once spread 
out to a plain without bounds — my powers heard a call 
from heaven to rise, gather their full strength, spread 
their wings, and mount beyond ken, God had an errand 
for me ; to bear which afar, to deliver it well, skill and 
strength, courage and eloquence, the best qualifications 
of soldier, statesman, and orator, were all needed : for 
these all centre in the good missionary. 

" A missionary I resolved to be. From that moment 
my state of mind changed ; the fetters dissolved and 
dropped from every faculty, leaving nothing of bondage 
but its galling soreness — which time only can heal. My 
father, indeed, opposed the determination, but since his 
death, I have not a legitimate obstacle to contend with ; 
some affairs settled, a successor for Morton provided, an 
entanglement or two of the feelings broken through or 
cut asunder — a last conflict with human weakness, in 
which I know I shall overcome, because I have vowed 
that I ivill overcome — and 1 leave Europe for the 
East." 

He said this, in his peculiar, subdued, yet emphatic 
voice ; looking, when he had ceased speaking, not at me, 
but at the setting sun, at which I looked too. Both he 
and I had our backs towards the path leading up the 
field to the wicket. We had heard no step on that 
grass-grown track ; the water running in the vale was 
the one lulling sound of the hour and scene ; we might 
well then start, when a gay voice, sweet as a silver bell, 
exclaimed : — 

"Good evening, Mr Rivers. And good evening, old 



l68 JANE EYRE. 

Carlo. Your dog is quicker to recognise his friends than 
you are, sir ; he pricked his ears and wagged his tail 
when I was at the bottom of the field, and you have 
your back towards me now." 

It was true. Though Mr Rivers had started at the 
first of those musical accents, as if a thunderbolt had 
split a cloud over his head, he stood yet, at the close of 
the sentence, in the same attitude in which the speaker 
had surprised him — his arm resting on the gate, his face 
directed towards the west. He turned at last, with 
measured deliberation. A vision, as it seemed to me, 
had risen at his side. There appeared, within three 
feet of him, a form clad in pure white — a youthful, 
graceful form : full, yet fine in contour ; and when, after 
bending to caress Carlo, it lifted up its head, and threw 
back a long veil, there bloomed under his glance a face 
of perfect beauty. Perfect beauty is a strong expres- 
sion ; but I do not retrace or qualify it : as sweet 
features as ever the temperate clime of Albion moulded ; 
as pure hues of rose and lily as ever her humid gales 
and vapoury skies generated and screened, justified, in 
this instance, the term. No charm was wanting, no 
defect was perceptible ; the young girl had regular and 
delicate lineaments ; eyes shaped and coloured as we see 
them in lovely pictures, large, and dark, and full ; the 
long and shadowy eyelash which encircles a fine eye with 
so soft a fascination ; the pencilled brow which gives 
such clearness ; the white, smooth forehead, which adds 
such repose to the livelier beauties of tint and ray ; the 
cheek, oval, fresh and smooth ; the lips, fresh too, 
ruddy, healthy, sweetly formed ; the even and gleaming 
teeth without flaw ; the small dimpled chin ; the orna- 
ment of rich, plenteous tresses — all advantages, in short, 
which, combined, realise the ideal of beauty, were fully 
hers. I wondered, as I looked at this fair creature : I 
admired her with my whole heart. Nature had surely 



JANE EYRE. 169 

formed her in a partial mood ; and, forgetting her usual 
stinted step-mother dole of gifts, had endowed this, her 
darling, with a granddame's bounty. 

What did St John Rivers think of this earthly 
angel ? I naturally asked myself that question as I saw 
him turn to her and look at her ; and, as naturally, I 
sought the answer to the inquiry in his countenance. 
He had already withdrawn his eye from the Peri, and 
was looking at a humble tuft of daisies which grew by 
the wicket. 

" A lovely evening, but late for you to be out alone," 
he said, as he crushed the snowy heads of the closed 
flowers witli his foot. 

"Oh, I only came home from S " (she men- 
tioned the name of a large town some twenty miles dis- 
tant) "this afternoon. Papa told me you had opened 
your school, and that the new mistress was come ; and 
so I put on my bonnet after tea, and ran up the valley 
to see her : this is she ? " pointing to me. 

" It is, " said St John. 

" Do you think you shall like Morton ? " she asked 
of me, with a direct and naive simplicity of tone and 
manner, pleasing, if child-like. 

" I hope I shall. I have many inducements to do 
so." 

" Did you find your scholars as attentive as you ex- 
pected ? " 

" Quite." 

" Do you like your house ? " 

•' Very much." 

" Have I furnished it nicely ? " 

" Very nicely, indeed." 

" And made a good choice of an attendant for you 
in Alice Wood ? " 

" You have, indeed. She is teachable and handy." 
(This, then, I thought, is Miss Oliver, the heiress ; 



lyo JANE EYRE. 

favoured, it seems, in the gifts of fortune, as well as in 
those of nature ! What happy combination of the 
planets presided over her birth, I wonder ?) 

" I shall come up and help you to teach sometimes," 
she added. " It will be a change for me to visit you now 
and then ; and I like a change. Mr Rivers, I have 

been so gay during my stay at S . Last night, or 

rather this morning, I was dancing till two o'clock. 

The th regiment are stationed there since the 

riots ; and the officers are the most agreeable men in 
the world : they put all our young knife-grinders and 
scissor merchants to shame." 

It seemed to me that Mr St John's under lip pro- 
truded, and his upper lip curled a moment. His mouth 
certainly looked a good deal compressed, and the lower 
part of his face unusually stern and square, as the laugh- 
ing girl gave him this information. He lifted his gaze, 
too, from the daisies, and turned it on her. An un- 
smiling, a searching, a meaning gaze it was. She 
answered it with a second laugh, and laughter well be- 
came her youth, her roses, her dimples, her bright eyes. 

As he stood, mute and grave, she again fell to caress- 
ing Carlo. " Poor Carlo loves me," said she. " He 
is not stern and distant to his friends ; and if he could 
speak, he would not be silent." 

As she patted the dog's head, bending with native 
grace before his young and austere master, I saw a glow 
rise to that master's face. I saw his solemn eye melt 
with sudden lire, and flicker with resistless emotion. 
Flushed and kindled thus, he looked nearly as beautiful 
for a man as she for a woman. His chest heaved once, 
as if his large heart, weary of despotic constriction, had 
expanded, despite the will, and made a vigorous bound 
for the attainment of liberty. But he curbed it, I think, 
as a resolute rider would curb a rearing steed. He re- 
sponded neither by word nor movement to the gentle 
advances made him. 



JANE EYRE. I7I 

" Papa says you never come to see us now," con- 
tinued Miss Oliver, looking up. " You are quite a 
stranger at Vale Hall. He is alone this evening, and 
not very well : will you return with me and visit 
him ? " 

" It is not a seasonable hour to intmde on Mr 
Oliver," answered St John. 

" Not a seasonable hour ! But, I declare, it is. It 
is just the hour when papa most wants company : when 
the works are closed, and he has no business to occupy 
him. Now, Mr Rivers, do come. Why are you so very 
shy, and so very sombre ? " she filled up the hiatus his 
silence left by a reply of her own. 

" I forgot ! " she exclaimed, shaking her beautiful 
curled head, as if shocked at herself. " 1 am so giddy and 
thoughtless! Z)o excuse me. It had slipped my memoiy 
that you have good reasons to be indisposed for joining 
in my chatter. Diana and Mary have left you, and 
Moor House is shut up, and you are so lonely. I am 
sure I pity you. Do come and see papa." 

" Not to-night, Miss Rosamond, not to-night." 

Mr St John spoke almost like an automaton : himself 
only knew the etfort it cost him thus to refuse. 

" Well, if you are so obstinate, I will leave you ; for 
I dare not stay any longer : the dew begins to fall. 
Good evening ! " 

She held out her hand. He just touched it. " Good 
evening ! " he repeated, in a voice low and hollow as 
an echo. She turned ; but in a moment returned. 

" Are you well ? " she asked. Well might she put 
the question : his face was blanched as her gown. 

" Quite well," he enunciated ; and, with a bow, he 
left the gate. She went one way ; he another. She 
turned twice to gaze after him, as she tripped fairy-like 
down the field ; he, as he strode firmly across, never 
turned at all. 



172 JANE EYRE. 

This spectacle of another's suffering and sacrifice, 
rapt my thoughts from exclusive meditation on my own. 
Diana Rivers had designated her brother " inexorable 
as death." She had not exaggerated. 



Chapter %%%ij^ 

I CONTINUED the labours of the village-school 
as actively and faithfully as 1 could. It was truly 
hard work at first. Some time elapsed before, with 
all my efforts, I could comprehend my scholars and 
their nature. Wholly untaught, with faculties quite 
torpid, they seemed to me hopelessly dull ; and, at first 
sight, all dull alike : but I soon found I was mistaken. 
There was a difference amongst them as amongst the 
educated ; and when I got to know them, and they me, 
this difference rapidly developed itself. Their amaze- 
ment at me, my language, my rules, and ways, once 
subsided, I found some of these heavy-looking, gaping 
i-ustics wake up into sharp-witted girls enough. Many 
showed themselves obliging, and amiable too ; and I 
discovered amongst them not a few examples of natural 
politeness, and innate self-respect, as well as of excel- 
lent capacity, that won both my good-will and my 
admiration. These soon took a pleasure in doing their 
work well ; in keeping their persons neat ; in learning 
their tasks regularly ; in acquiring quiet and orderly 
manners. The rapidity of their progress, in some in- 
stances, was even surprising ; and an honest and happy 
pride I took in it : besides, I began personally to like 
some of the best girls ; and they liked me. I had 
amongst my scholars several farmers' daughters : young 
women grown, almost. These could already read, 
write, and sew ; and to them I taught the elements of 



JANE EYRE, 1 73 

grammar, geography, history, and the finer kinds of 
needlework. I found estimable characters amongst 
them — characters desirous of information, and disposed 
for improvement — with whom I passed many a pleasant 
evening hour in their own homes. Their parents then 
(the farmer and his wife) loaded me with attentions. 
There was an enjoyment in accepting their simple kind- 
ness, and in repaying it by a consideration — a scrupulous 
regard to their feelings — to which they were not, per- 
haps, at all times accustomed, and which both charmed 
and benefited them ; because, while it elevated them in 
their own eyes, it made them emulous to merit the 
deferential treatment they received. 

I felt I became a favourite in the neighbourhood. 
Whenever I went out, I heard on all sides cordial 
salutations, and was welcomed with friendly smiles. To 
live amidst genei'al regard, though it be but the regard 
of working-people, is like " sitting in sunshine, calm and 
sweet : " serene inward feelings bud and bloom under 
the ray. At this period of my life, my heart far oftener 
swelled with thankfulness than sank with dejection : and 
yet, reader, to tell you all, in the midst of this calm, 
this useful existence — after a day passed in honourable 
exertion amongst my scholars, an evening spent in draw- 
ing or reading contentedly alone — I used to rush into 
strange dreams at night : dreams many-coloured, agi- 
tated, full of the ideal, the stirring, the stormy — dreams 
where, amidst unusual scenes, charged with adventure, 
with agitating risk and romantic chance, I still again and 
again met Mr Rochester, always at some exciting crisis ; 
and then the sense of being in his arms, hearing his 
voice, meeting his eye, touching his hand and cheek, 
loving him, being loved by him — the hope of passing a 
lifetime at his side, would be renewed, with all its first 
force and fire. Then I awoke. Then I recalled where 
I was, and how situated. Then I rose up on my 



174 JANE EYRE. 

curtainless bed, trembling and quivering ; and then the 
still, dark night witnessed the convulsion of despair, and 
heard the burst of passion. By nine o'clock the next 
morning I was punctually opening the school ; tranquil, 
settled, prepared for the steady duties of the day. 

Rosamond Oliver kept her word in coming to visit me. 
Her call at the school was generally made in the course 
of her morning ride. She would canter up to the door 
on her pony, followed by a mounted livery servant. 
Anything more exquisite than her appearance, in her 
purple habit, with her Amazon's cap of black velvet 
placed gracefully above the long curls that kissed her 
cheek and floated to her shoulders, can scarcely be 
imagined : and it was thus she would enter the rustic 
building, and glide through the dazzled ranks of the 
village children. . She generally came at the hour when 
Mr Rivers was engaged in giving his daily catechising 
lesson. Keenly, I fear, did the eye of the visitress 
pierce the young pastor's heart. A sort of instinct 
seemed to warn him of her entrance, even when he did 
not see it ; and when he was looking quite away from 
the door, if she appeared at it, his cheek would glow, 
and his marble-seeming features, though they refused to 
relax, changed indescribably ; and in their very quies- 
cence became expressive of a repressed fervour, 
stronger than working muscle or darting glance could 
indicate. 

Of course, she knew her power : indeed, he did not, 
because he could not, conceal it from her. In spite of 
his Christian stoicism, when she went up and addressed 
him, and smiled gaily, encouragingly, even fondly in his 
face, his hand would tremble, and his eye burn. He 
seemed to say, with his sad and resolute look, if he did 
not say it with his lips, " I love you, and I know you 
prefer me. It is not despair of success that keeps me 
dumb. If I offered my heart, I believe you would 



JANE EVRE. 175 

accept it. But that heart is already laid on a sacred 
altar : the fire is arranged round it. It will soon be no 
more than a sacrifice consumed." 

And then she would pout like a disappointed child ; 
a pensive cloud would soften her radiant vivacity ; she 
would withdraw her hand hastily from his, and turn in 
transient petulance from his aspect at once so heroic and 
so martyrlike. St John, no doubt, would have given 
the world to follow, recall, retain, her, when she thus 
left him ; but he would not give one chance of Heaven ; 
nor relinquish, for the elysium of her love, one hope of 
the true, eternal Paradise. Besides, he could not bound 
all that he had in his nature — the rover, the aspirant, the 
poet, the priest — in the limits of a single passion. He 
could not — he would not — renounce his wild field of 
mission warfare for the parlours and the peace of Vale 
Hall. I learnt so much from himself, in an inroad I 
once, despite his reserve, had the daring to make on his 
confidence. 

Miss Oliver already honoured me with frequent visits 
to my cottage. I had learnt her whole character ; 
which was without mystery or disguise : she was coquet- 
tish, but not heartless ; exacting, but not worthlessly 
selfish. She had been indulged from her birth, but was 
not absolutely spoilt. She was hasty, but good-humoured; 
vain (she could not help it, when every glance in the 
glass showed her such a flush of loveliness), but not 
affected ; liberal-handed ; innocent of the pride of 
wealth ; ingenuous ; sufficiently intelligent ; gay, lively, 
and unthinking : she was very charming, in short, even 
to a cool observer of her own sex like me ; but she was 
not profoundly interesting or thoroughly impressive. A 
very different sort of mind was hers from that, for in- 
stance, of the sisters of St John. Still, I liked her 
almost as I liked my pupil Adele ; except that, for a 
child whom we have watched over and taught, a closer 



176 JANE EYRE. 

affection is engendered than we can give an equally 
attractive adult acquaintance. 

She had taken an amiable caprice to me. She said I 
was like Mr Rivers (only, certainly, she allowed, " not 
one-tenth so handsome, though I was a nice neat little soul 
enough, but he was an angel "). I was, however, good, 
clever, composed, and firm, like him. I was a lusus 
natura, she affirmed, as a village schoolmistress : she 
was sure my previous history, if known, would make a 
delightful romance. 

One evening, while, with her usual child-like activity, 
and thoughtless yet not offensive inquisitiveness, she was 
rummaging the cupboard and the table-drawer of my 
little kitchen, she discovered first two French books, a 
volume of Schiller, a German grammar and dictionary ; 
and then my drawing-materials and some sketches, in- 
cluding a pencil-head of a pretty, little cherub-like girl, 
one of my scholars, and sundry views from nature, taken 
in the Vale of Morton and on the surrounding moors. 
She was first transfixed with surprise, and then electrified 
with delight. 

" Had I done these pictures ? Did I know French 
and German ? What a love — what a miracle I was ! 
I drew better than her master in the first school in 

S . Would I sketch a portrait of her, to show to 

papa ? " 

" With pleasure," I replied ; and I felt a thrill of 
artist-delight at the idea of copying from so perfect and 
radiant a model. She had then on a dark-blue silk 
dress ; her arms and her neck were bare ; her only 
ornament was her chestnut tresses, which waved over 
her shoulders with all the wild grace of natural curls. I 
took a sheet of fine card-board, and drew a careful out- 
line. I promised myself the pleasure of colouring it ; 
and, as it was getting late then, I told her she must 
come and sit another day. 



JANE EYRE. 177 

She made such a report ot me to her father, that Mr 
Oliver himself accompanied her next evening — a tail, 
massive-featured, middle-aged, and grey-headed man, 
at whose side his lovely daughter looked like a bright 
flower near a hoary turret. He appeared a taciturn, 
and perhaps a proud personage ; but he was very kind 
to me. The sketch of Rosamond's portrait pleased him 
highly : he said I must make a finished picture of it. 
He insisted, too, on my coming the next day to spend 
the evening at Vale Hall. 

I went. I found it a large, handsome residence, 
showing abundant evidences of wealth in the proprietor. 
Rosamond was full of glee and pleasure all the time I 
stayed. Her father was affable ; and when he 
entered into conversation with me after tea, he ex- 
pressed in strong terms his approbation of what I had 
done in Morton school ; and said he only feared, 
from what he saw and heard, I was too good 
for the place, and would soon quit it for one more 
suitable. 

" Indeed ! " cried Rosamond, "she is clever enough 
to be a governess in a high family, papa." 

I thought — I would far rather be where I am than 
in any high family in the land. Mr Oliver spoke of 
Mr Rivers — of the Rivers family — with great respect. 
He said it was a veiy old name in tliat neighbourhood ; 
that the ancestors of the house were wealthy ; that all 
Morton had once belonged to them ; that even now he 
considered the representative of that house might, if he 
liked, make an alliance with the best. He accounted 
it a pity that so fine and talented a young man should 
have formed the design of going out as a missionary ; it 
was quite throwing a valuable life away. It appeared, 
then, that her father would throw no obstacle in the way 
of Rosamond's union with St John. Mr Oliver evidently 
regarded the young clergyman's good birth, old name, 

11. M 



178 JANE EYRE. 

and sacred profession, as sufficient compensation for the 
want of fortune. 

It was the 5th of November, and a holiday. My 
little servant, after helping me to clean my house, was 
gone, well satisfied with the fee of a penny for her aid. 
All about me was spotless and bright — scoured floor, 
polished grate, and well rubbed chairs. I had also 
made myself neat, and had now the afternoon before me 
to spend as I would. 

The translation of a few pages of German occupied 
an hour ; then I got my palette and pencils, and fell to 
the more soothing, because easier occupation, of com- 
pleting Rosamond Oliver's miniature. The head was 
finished already ; there was but the background to tint, 
and the drapery to shade off; a touch of carmine, too, 
to add to the ripe lips — a soft curl here and there to the 
tresses — a deeper tinge to the shadow of the lash under 
the azure eyelid. I was absorbed in the execution of 
these nice details, when, after one rapid tap, my door 
unclosed, admitting St John Rivers. 

" I am come to see how you are spending your 
holiday," he said. " Not, I hope, in thought ? No, 
that is well : while you draw you will not feel lonely. 
You see, I mistrust you still : though you have borne 
up wonderfully so far. I have brought you a book for 
evening solace," and he laid on the table a new publi- 
cation — a poem : one of those genuine productions so 
often vouchsafed to the fortunate public of those days — 
the golden age of modern literature. Alas ! the readers 
of our era are less favoured. But, courage ! I will 
not pause either to accuse or repine. I know poetry is 
not dead, nor genius lost ; nor has Mammon gained 
power over either, to bind or slay : they will both 
assert their existence, their presence, their liberty and 
strength again one day. Powerful angels, safe in 
heaven ! they smile when sordid souls triumph, and 



JANE EYRE. 1 79 

feeble ones weep over their destruction. Poetry de- 
stroyed ? Genius banished ? No ! Mediocrity, no : 
do not let envy prompt you to the thought. No ; they 
not only live, but reign, and redeem : and without their 
divine influence spread everywhere, you would be in hell 
— the hell of your own meanness. 

While I was eagerly glancing at the bright pages of 
Marmion (for Marmion it was), St John stooped to 
examine my drawing. His tall figure sprang erect again 
with a start : he said nothing. I looked up at him : he 
shunned my eye. I knew his thoughts well, and could 
read his heart plainly ; at the moment I felt calmer and 
cooler than he : I had then temporarily the advantage of 
him ; and 1 conceived an inclination to do him some 
good, if I could. 

" With all his firmness and self-control," thought I, 
" he tasks himself too far : locks every feeling and pang 
within — expresses, confesses, imparts nothing. I am 
sure it would benefit him to talk a little about this sweet 
Rosamond, whom he thinks he ought not to marry : I 
will make him talk." 

I said first : " Take a chair, Mr Rivers." But he 
answered, as he always did, that he could not stay. 
" Very well," I responded mentally, " stand if you like ; 
but you shall not go just yet, I am determined : soli- 
tude is at least as bad for you as it is for me. I'll try 
if I cannot discover the secret spring of your confidence, 
and find an aperture in that marble breast through which 
I can shed one drop of the balm of sympathy. 

" Is this portrait like ? " I asked bluntly. 

" Like ! Like whom ? I did not observe it 
closely." 

" You did, Mr Rivers." 

He almost started at my sudden and strange abrupt- 
ness : he looked at me astonished. " Oh, that is no- 
thing yet," I muttered within. " I don't mean to be 



l8o JANE EYRE. 

baffled by a little stiffness on your part ; I'm prepared 
to go to considerable lengths." I continued, " You 
observed it closely and distinctly : but I have no objec- 
tion to your looking at it again," and I rose and placed 
it in his hand. 

" A well-executed picture," he said ; " very soft, 
clear colouring ; very graceful and correct drawing." 

" Yes, yes ; I know all that. But what of the re- 
semblance ? Who is it like ? " 

Mastering some hesitation, he answered, " Miss 
Oliver, I presume." 

" Of course. And now, sir, to reward you for the 
accurate guess, I will promise to paint you a careful and 
faithful duplicate of this very picture, provided you 
admit that the gift would be acceptable to you. I don't 
wish to throw away my time and trouble on an offering 
you would deem worthless." 

He continued to gaze at the picture : the longer he 
looked, the firmer he held it, the more he seemed to 
covet it. " It is like ! " he murmured ; " the eye is well 
managed : the colour, light, expression, are perfect. It 
smiles ! " 

" Would it comfort, or would it wound you to have 
a similar painting ? Tell me that. When you are at 
Madagascar, or at the Cape, or in India, would it be a 
consolation to have that memento in your possession ? or 
would the sight of it bring recollections calculated to 
enervate and distress ? " 

He now furtively raised his eyes : he glanced at 
me, irresolute, disturbed ; he again surveyed the pic- 
ture. 

" That I should like to have it, is certain : whether 
it would be judicious or wise is another question." 

Since I had ascertained that Rosamond really pre- 
ferred him, and that her father was not likely to oppose 
the match, I — less exalted in my views than St John — 



JANE EYRE. l8l 

had been strongly disposed in my own heart to advocate 
their union. It seemed to me that, should he become 
the possessor of Mr Oliver's large fortune, he might do as 
much good with it as if he went and laid his genius out 
to wither, and his strength to waste, under a tropical sun. 
With this persuasion I now answered : — 

*' As far as I can see, it would be wiser and more 
judicious if you were to take to yourself the original at 
once." 

By this time he had sat down : he had laid the pic- 
ture on the table before him, and with his brow supported 
on both hands, hung fondly over it. I discerned he was 
now neither angry nor shocked at my audacity. I saw 
even that to be thus frankly addressed on a subject he 
had deemed unapproachable — to hear it thus freely 
handled — was beginning to be felt by him as a new 
pleasure — an unhoped-for relief. Reserved people 
often really need the frank discussion of their sentiments 
and griefs more than the expansive. The sternest- 
seeming stoic is human after all ; and to " burst " 
with boldness and good will into " the silent sea " of 
their souls, is often to confer on them the first of 
obligations. 

" She likes you, I am sure," said I, as I stood behind 
his chair, " and her father respects you. Moreover, 
she is a sweet girl — rather thoughtless ; but you would 
have sufficient thought for both yourself and her. You 
ought to marry her." 

" Does she like me ? " he asked. 

" Certainly ; better than she likes any one else. She 
talks of you continually : there is no subject she enjoys 
so much, or touches upon so often." 

" It is very pleasant to hear thi.i," he said — " very : 
go on for another quarter of an hour." And he 
actually took out his watch and laid it upon the table 
to measure the time. 



l82 JANE EYRE. 

" But where is the use of going on," I asked, " when 
you are probably preparing some iron blow of contra- 
diction, or forging a fresh chain to fetter your heart ? " 

" Don't imagine such hard things. Fancy me 
yielding and melting, as I am doing : human love 
rising like a freshly opened fountain in my mind and 
overflowing with sweet inundation all the field I have 
so carefully, and with such labour prepared — so 
assiduously sown with the seeds of good intentions, of 
self-denying plans. And now it is deluged with 
a nectarous flood — the young germs swamped — delicious 
poison cankering them : now I see myself stretched on 
an ottoman in the drawing-room at Vale Hall, at my 
bride Rosamond Oliver's feet : she is talking to me with 
her sweet voice — gazing down on me with those eyes 
your skilful hand has copied so well — smiling at me 
with these coral lips. She is mine — I am hers — this 
present life and passing world suffice to me. Hush ! 
say nothing — my heart is full of delight — my senses are 
entranced — let the time I marked pass in peace." 

I humoured him : the watch ticked on : he breathed 
fast and low : 1 stood silent. Amidst this hush the 
quarter sped ; he replaced the watch, laid the picture 
down, rose, and stood on the hearth. 

" Now," said he, " that little space was given to 
delirium and delusion. I rested my temples on the 
breast of temptation, and put my neck voluntarily under 
her yoke of flowers ; I tasted her cup. The pillow 
was burning : there is an asp in the garland : the wine 
has a bitter taste : her promises are hollow — her offers 
false: I see and know ail this." 

I gazed at him in wonder. 

" It is strange," pursued he, " that while I love 
Rosamond Oliver so wildly — with all the intensity, 
indeed, of a first passion, the object of which is 
exquisitely beautiful, graceful, and fascinating — I 



JANE EYRE. 

experience at the same time a calm, unwarped con- 
sciousness than she would not make me a good wife ; 
that she is not the partner suited to me ; that I should 
discover this within a year after marriage ; and that to 
twelve months' rapture would succeed a lifetime of 
regret. This I know." 

" Strange, indeed ! " I could not help ejaculating. 

"While something in me," he went on, "is acutely 
sensible to her charms, something else is as deeply 
impressed with her defects : they are such that she 
could sympathise in nothing I aspired to — co-operate in 
nothing I undertook. Rosamond a suiferer, a labourer, 
a female apostle ? Rosamond a missionary's wife ? 
No!" 

" But you need not be a missionary. You might 
relinquish that scheme." 

" Relinquish ! What 1 my vocation ? My great 
work ? My foundation laid on earth for a mansion in 
heaven ? My hopes of being numbered in the band 
who have merged all ambitions in the glorious one of 
bettering their race — of carrying knowledge into the 
realms of ignorance — of substituting peace for war — 
freedom for bondage — religion for superstition — the 
hope of heaven for the fear of hell ? Must I relinquish 
that ? It is dearer than the blood in my veins. It is 
what I have to look forward to, and to live for." 

After a considerable pause, I said, — " And Miss 
Oliver ? Are her disappointment and sorrow of no 
interest to you ? " 

" Miss Oliver is ever surrounded by suitors and 
flatterers : in less than a month, my image will be 
effaced from her heart. She will forget me ; and will 
marry, probably, some one who will make her far 
happier than I should do." 

" You speak coolly enough ; but you suffer in the 
conriict You are wasting away." 



JANE EYRE. 

" No. If I get a little thin, it is with anxiety about 
my prospects, yet unsettled — my departure, continually 
procrastinated. Only this morning, I received intelli- 
gence that the successor, whose arrival I have been 
so long expecting, cannot be ready to replace me for 
three months to come yet ; and perhaps the three 
months may extend to six." 

" You tremble and become flushed whenever Miss 
Oliver enters the school-room." 

Again the surprised expression crossed his face. He 
had not imagined that a woman would dare to speak so 
to a man. For me, I felt at home in this sort of dis- 
course. I could never rest in communication with 
strong, discreet, and refined minds, whether male or 
female, till I had passed the outworks of conventional 
reserve, and crossed the threshold of confidence, and 
won a place by their heart's very hearthstone. 

" You are original," said he, " and not timid. There 
is something brave in your spirit, as well as penetrating 
in your eye : but allow me to assure you that you par- 
tially misintei-pret my emotions. You think them more 
profound and potent than they are. You give me a 
larger allowance of sympathy than 1 have a just claim 
to. When I colour, and when I shake before Miss 
Oliver, I do not pity myself. I scorn the weakness. 
I know it is ignoble ; a mere fever of the flesh : not, I 
declare, the convulsion of the soul. That is just as 
fixed as a rock, firm set in the depths of a restless sea. 
Know me to be what I am — a cold hard man." 

I smiled incredulously. 

" You have taken my confidence by storm," he con- 
tinued : " and now it is much at your service. I am 
simply, in my original state — stripped of that blood- 
bleached robe with which Christianity covers human de- 
formity — a cold, hard, ambitious man. Natural afi^ection 
only, of all the sentiments, has permanent power over me. 



JANE EYRE. 185 

Reason, and not Feeling, is my guide ; my ambition is 
unlimited ; my desire to nse higher, to do more than 
others insatiable. I honour endurance, perseverance, 
industry, talent ; because these are the means by which 
men achieve great ends, and mount to lofty eminence. 
I watch your career with interest, because I consider 
you a specimen of a diligent, orderly, energetic woman : 
not because I deeply compassionate what you have gone 
through, or what you still suffer." 

" You would describe yourself as a mere pagan phil- 
osopher," I said. 

" No. There is this difference between me and 
deistic philosophers : I believe ; and I believe the 
Gospel. You missed your epithet. I am not a pagan, 
but a Christian philosopher — a follower of the sect of 
Jesus. As his disciple I adopt his pure, his merciful, 
his benignant doctrines. I advocate them : I am sworn 
to spread them. Won in youth to religion, she has 
cultivated my original qualities thus : — From the minute 
germ, natural affection, she has developed the over- 
shadowing tree, philanthropy. From the wild, stringy 
root of human uprightness, she has reared a due sense 
of the Divine justice. Of the ambition to win power 
and renown for my wretched self, she has formed the 
ambition to spread my Master's kingdom ; to achieve 
victories for the standard of the cross. So much has 
religion done for me ; turning the original materials to 
the best account ; pruning and training nature. But she 
could not eradicate nature : nor will it be eradicated 
* till this mortal shall put on immortality.' " 

Having said this, he took his hat, which lay on the 
table beside my palette. Once more he looked at the 
portrait. 

" She is lovely," he murmured. She is well named 
the Rose of the Worid, indeed ! " 

" And may I not paint one like it for you ? " 



l86 JANE EYRE. 

" Ci/'i bono ? No." 

He drew over the picture the sheet of thin paper on 
which I was accustomed to rest my hand in painting, 
to prevent the card-board from being sullied. What he 
suddenly saw on this blank paper, it was impossible for 
me to tell : but something had caught his eye. He 
took it up with a snatch ; he looked at the edge ; then 
shot a glance at me, inexpressibly peculiar, and quite 
incomprehensible : a glance that seemed to take and 
make note of every point in my shape, face, and dress ; 
for it traversed all, quick, keen as lightning. His lips 
parted, as if to speak : but he checked the coming sen- 
tence, whatever it was. 

" What is the matter ? " I asked. 

" Nothing in the world," was the reply : and, replac- 
ing the paper, I saw him dexterously tear a narrow slip 
from the margin. It disappeared in his glove ; and, 
with one hasty nod and " good-afternoon," he vanished. 

" Well ! " I exclaimed, using an expression of the 
district ; " that caps the globe, however 1 " 

I, in my turn, scrutinised the paper ; but saw nothing 
on it save a few dingy stains of paint where I had tried 
the tint in my pencil. I pondered the mystery a minute 
or two ; but finding it insolvable, and being certain it 
could not be of much moment, I dismissed, and soon 
forgot it. 



WHEN Mr St John went, it was beginning to 
snow ; the whirling storm continued all night. 
The next day a keen wind brought fresh and 
blinding falls ; by twilight the valley was drifted up and 
almost impassable. 1 had closed my shutter, laid a mat 
to the door to prevent the snow from blowing in under 



JANE EYRE. 1 87 

it, trimmed my fire, and after sitting nearly an hour on 
the hearth listening to the muffled fury of the tempest, 
I lit a candle, took down Marmion, and beginning — 

" Day set on Norham's castled steep, 
And Tweed's fair river broad and deep, 

And Cheviot's mountains lone ; 
The massive towers, the donjon keep, 
The flanking walls that round them sweep, 

In yellow lustre shone." 

I soon forgot storm in music. 

I heard a noise : the wind, I thought, shook the 
door. No ; it was St John Rivers, who, lifting the 
latch, came in out of the frozen hurricane — the howling 
darkness — and stood before me : the cloak that covered 
his tall figure all white as a glacier. I was almost in 
consternation ; so little had 1 expected any guest from 
the blocked-up vale that night. 

" Any ill news ? " I demanded. " Has anything 
happened ? " 

" No. How very easily alarmed you are ! " he 
answered, removing his cloak and hanging it up against 
the door, towards which he again coolly pushed the mat 
which his entrance had deranged. He stamped the 
snow from his boots. 

" I shall sully the purity of your floor," said he, 
" but you must excuse me for once." Then he ap- 
proached the fire : " I have had hard work to get here, 
I assure you," he observed, as he warmed his hands 
over the flame. " One drift took me up to the waist ; 
happily the snow is quite soft yet." 

" But why are you come ? " I could not forbear 
saying. 

" Rather an inhospitable question to put to a visitor ; 
but since you ask it, I answer simply to have a little 
talk with you ; I got tired of my mute books and empty 
rooms. Besides, since yesterday, I have experienced 



1 88 JANE EYRE. 

the excitement of a person to whom a tale has been half- 
told, and who is impatient to hear the sequel." 

He sat down. I recalled his singular conduct of 
yesterday, and really I began to fear his wits were 
touched. If he were insane, however, his was a very 
cool and collected insanity : I had never seen that 
handsome-featured face of his look more like chiselled 
marble than it did just now, as he put aside his snow- 
wet hair from his foiehead and let the fire-light shine free 
on his pale brow and cheek as pale, where it grieved me 
to discover the hollow trace of care or sorrow now so 
plainly graved. I waited, expecting he would say 
something I could at least comprehend ; but liis hand 
was now at his chin, his finger on his lip : he was 
thinking. It struck me that his hand look wasted like 
his face. A perhaps uncalled-for gush of pity came 
over my heart : I was moved to say : — 

" I wish Diana or Mary would come and live with 
you : it is too bad that you should be quite alone ; and 
you are recklessly rash about your own health." 

" Not at all," said he : "I care for myself when 
necessary. I am well now. What do you see amiss in 
me?" 

This was said with a careless, abstracted indifference, 
which showed that my solicitude was, at least in his 
opinion, wholly superfluous. I was silenced. 

He still slowly moved his finger over his upper lip, 
and still his eye dwelt dreamily on the glowing grate ; 
thinking it urgent to say something, I asked him presently 
if he felt any cold draught from the door, which was 
behind him. 

" No, no ; " he responded, shortly and somewhat 
testily. 

" Well," I reflected, " if you won't talk, you may be 
still ; I'll let you alone now, and return to my book." 

So I snuffed the candle, and resumed the perusal of 



JANE EYRE. I89 

Marmion. He soon stirred ; my eye was instantly 
drawn to his movements ; he only took out a morocco 
pocket-book, thence produced a letter, which he read 
in silence, folded it, put it back, relapsed into medita- 
tion. It was vain to try to read with such an inscmtable 
fixture before me ; nor could I, in my impatience, 
consent to be dumb ; he might rebuff me if he liked, but 
talk I would. 

" Have you heard from Diana and Mary lately ? " 

" Not since the letter I showed you a week ago." 

*' There has not been any change made about your 
own arrangements ? You will not be summoned to 
leave England sooner than you expected ? " 

" I fear not, indeed : such chance is too good to 
befall me." Baffled so far I changed my ground — I 
bethought myself to talk about the school and my 
scholars. 

" Mary Garrett's mother is better, and Mary came 
back to the school this morning, and 1 shall have four 
new girls next week from the Foundry Close — they 
would have come to-day but for the snow." 

" Indeed ! " 

"Mr Oliver pays for two." 

"Does he?" 

*' He means to give the whole school a treat at 
Christmas." 

" I know." 

"Was it your suggestion ? " 

« No." 

" Whose then ? " 

" His daughter's, I think." 

" It is like her : she is so good-natured." 

« Yes." 

Again came the blank of a pause : the clock struck 
eight strokes. It aroused him ; he uncrossed his legs, 
sat erect, turned to me. 



igo JANE EYRE. 

" Leave your book, a moment, and come a little 
nearer the fire," he said. 

Wondering, and of my wonder finding no end, I 
complied. 

" Half an hour ago," he pursued, " I spoke of my 
impatience to hear the sequel of a tale : on reflection, 
I find the matter will be better managed by my assum- 
ing the narrator's part, and converting you into a 
listener. Before commencing, it is but fair to warn 
you that the story will sound somewhat hackneyed in 
your ears : but stale details often regain a degree of 
freshness when they pass through new lips. For the 
rest, whether trite or novel, it is short. 

" Twenty years ago, a poor curate — never mind his 
name at this moment — fell in love with a rich man's 
daughter ; she fell in love with him, and married him, 
against the advice of all her friends ; who consequently 
disowned her immediately after the wedding. Before 
two years passed, the rash pair were both dead, and 
laid quietly side by side under one slab. ( I have seen 
their grave ; it formed part of the pavement of a huge 
churchyard surrounding the grim, soot - black old 
cathedral of an overgrown manufacturing town in 

shire.) They left a daughter, which, at its very 

birth. Charity received in her lap — cold as that of the 
snow-drift I almost stuck fast in to-night. Charity 
carried the friendless thing to the house of its rich, 
maternal relations ; it was reared by an aunt-in-law, 
called (I come to names now) Mrs Reed of Gateshead 
— you start- — did you hear a noise ? I daresay it is 
only a rat scrambling along the rafters of the adjoining 
schoolroom : it was a barn before I had it repaired and 
altered, and barns are generally haunted by rats. — To 
proceed. Mrs Reed kept the orphan ten years : 
whether it was happy or not with her, I cannot say, 
never having been told ; but at the end of that time she 



JANE EYRE. I9I 

transferred it to a place you know — being no other than 
Lowood School, where you so long resided yourself. 
It seems her career there was very honourable : from a 
pupil, she became a teacher, like yourself — really it 
strikes me there are parallel points in her history and 
yours — she left it to be a governess : there, again, your 
fates were analogous ; she undertook the education of 
the ward of a certain Mr Rochester." 

" Mr Rivers ! " I interrupted. 

" I can guess your feelings," he said, " but restrain 
them for a while : I have nearly finished ; hear me to 
the end. Of Mr Rochester's character I know nothing, 
but the one fact that he professed to offer honourable 
marriage to this young girl, and that at the very altar 
she discovered he had a wife yet alive, though a lunatic. 
What his subsequent conduct and proposals were is a 
matter of pure conjecture ; but when an event trans- 
pired which rendered inquiry after the governess 
necessary, it was discovered she was gone — no one 
could tell when, where, or how. She had left Thorn- 
field Hall in the night ; eveiy research after her course 
had been vain : the country had been scoured far and 
wide ; no vestige of information could be gathered re- 
specting her. Yet that she should be found is become a 
matter of serious urgency : advertisements have been 
put in all the papers ; I myself have received a letter 
from one Mr Briggs, a solicitor, communicating the 
details I have just imparted. Is it not an odd 
tale ? " 

" Just tell me this," said I, " and since you know 
so much, you surely can tell it me — what of Mr 
Rochester ? How and where is he ? What is he 
doing ? Is he well ? " 

" I am ignorant of all concerning Mr Rochester : 
the letter never mentions him but to narrate the fraudu- 
lent and illegal attempt I have adverted to. You should 



192 JANE EYRE. 

rather ask the name of the governess — the nature oi the 
event which requires her appearance." 

" Did no one go to Thornfield Hall then ? Did no 
one see Mr Rochester ? " 

" I suppose not," 

" But they wrote to him ? " 

« Of course." 

" And what did he say ? Who has his letters ? " 

" Mr Briggs intimates that the answer to his applica- 
tion was not from Mr Rochester, but from a lady : it 
is signed ' Alice Fairfax.' " 

I felt cold and dismayed : my worst fears then were 
probably true : he had in all probability left England 
and rushed in reckless desperation to some former haunt 
on the Continent. And what opiate for his severe 
sufferings — what object for his strong passions — had he 
sought there ? I dared not answer the question. Oh, 
my poor master — once almost my husband — whom I 
had often called " my dear Edward ! " 

" He must have been a bad man," observed Mr 
Rivers. 

" You don't know him — don't pronounce an opinion 
upon him," I said, with warmth. 

" Very well," he answered, quietly : " and indeed 
my head is otherwise occupied than with him : I have 
my tale to finish. Since you won't ask the gover- 
ness's name, I must tell it of my own accord — stay — I 
have it here — it is always more satisfactory to see im- 
portant points written down, fairly committed to black 
and white." 

And the pocket-book was again deliberately pro- 
duced, opened, sought through ; from one of its com- 
partments was extracted a shabby slip of paper, hastily 
torn off: I recognised in its texture and its stains of 
ultra-marine, and lake, and vermillion, the ravished 
margin of the portrait-cover. He got up, held it close 



JANE EYRE. I93 

to my eyes : and I read, traced in Indian ink, in my 
own hand-writing, the words "Jane Eyre" — the work 
doubtless of some moment of abstraction. 

" Briggs wrote to me of a Jane Eyre : " he said, 
" the advertisements demanded a Jane Eyre : I knew a 
Jane Elliott. — I confess I had my suspicions, but it was 
only yesterday afternoon they were at once resolved 
into certainty. You own the name and renounce the 
alias ? " 

" Yes — yes — but where is Mr Briggs ? He perhaps 
knows more of Mr Rochester than you do." 

" Briggs is in London ; I should doubt his knowing 
anything at all about Mr Rochester ; it is not in Mr 
Rochester he is interested. Meantime, you forget 
essential points in pursuing trifles : you do not inquire 
why Mr Briggs sought after you — what he wanted with 
you." 

" Well, what did he want ? " 

" Merely to tell you that your uncle, Mr Eyre of 
Madeira, is dead ; that he has left you all his property, 
and that you are now rich — merely that — nothing 
more." 

"I! rich?" 

" Yes, you, rich — quite an heiress." 

Silence succeeded. 

" You must prove your identity of course," resumed 
St John, presently : " a step which will offer no diffi- 
culties ; you can then enter on immediate possession. 
Your fortune is vested in the English funds ; Briggs 
has the will and the necessary documents." 

Here was a new card turned up ! It is a fine thing, 
reader, to be lifted in a moment from indigence to 
wealth — a very fine thing : but not a matter one can 
comprehend, or consequently enjoy, all at once. And 
then there are other chances in life far more thrilling 
and rapture-giving : this is solid, an affair of the actual 

II. N 



194 JANE EYRE. 

world, nothing ideal about it : all its associations are 
solid and sober, and its manifestations are the same. 
One does not jump, and spring, and shout hurrah ! at 
hearing one has got a fortune, one begins to consider 
responsibilities, and to ponder business ; on a base of 
steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares — and we con- 
tain ourselves, and brood over our bliss with a solemn 
brow. 

Besides, the words Legacy, Bequest, go side by side 
with the words Death, Funeral. My uncle I had 
heard was dead — my only relative ; ever since being 
made aware of his existence, I had cherished the hope 
of one day seeing him : now, I never should. And 
then this money came only to me : not to me and a re- 
joicing family, but to my isolated self. It was a grand 
boon doubtless ; and independence would be glorious — 
yes, I felt that — that thought swelled my heart. 

" You unbend your forehead at last," said Mr Rivers : 
" I thought Medusa had looked at you, and that you 
were turning to stone — perhaps now you will ask how 
much you are worth ? " 

" How much am I worth ? " 

" Oh, a trifle ! Nothing of course to speak of — 
twenty thousand pounds, I think they say — but what is 
that ? " 

" Twenty thousand pounds ? " 

Here was a new stunner — I had been calculating on 
four or five thousand. This news actually took my 
breath for a moment : Mr St John, whom I had never 
heard laugh before, laughed now. 

" Well," said he, " if you had committed a murder, 
and I had told you your crime was discovered, you 
could scarcely look more aghast." 

" It is a large sum — don't you think there is a mis- 
take ? " 

" No mistake at all." 



JANE EYRE. 1 95 

" Perhaps you have read the figures wrong — it may 
be 2000 ! " 

" It is written in letters, not figures, — twenty thou- 
sand." 

I again felt rather like an individual of but average 
gastronomical powers, sitting down to feast alone at a 
table spread with provisions for a hundred. Mr Rivers 
rose now and put his cloak on. 

" If it were not such a very wild night," he said, " I 
would send Hannah down to keep you company : you 
look too desperately miserable to be left alone. But 
Hannah, poor woman ! could not stride the drifts so 
well as I : her legs are not quite so long : so I must 
e'en leave you to your sorrows. Good-night." 

He was lifting the latch : a sudden thought occurred 
to me. 

" Stop one minute ! " I cried. 

« Well ? " 

" It puzzles me to know why Mr Briggs wrote to 
you about me ; or how he knew you, or could fancy 
that you, living in such an out-of-the-way place, had 
the power to aid in my discovery." 

" Oh ! I am a clergyman," he said ; '*' and the clergy 
are often appealed to about odd matters." Again the 
latch rattled. 

" No : that does not satisfy me ! " I exclaimed : 
and, indeed, there was something in the hasty and un- 
explanatory reply, which, instead of allaying, piqued 
my curiosity more than ever. 

" It is a very strange piece of business," I added. " I 
must know more about it." 

" Another time." 

" No : to-night ! — to-night ! " and as he turned from 
the door, I placed myself between it and him. He 
looked rather embarrassed. 

" You certainly shall not go till you have told me 
all ! " I said. 



196 .TANE EYRE. 

" I would rather not, just now." 

" You shall ! — you must ! " 

" I would rather Diana or Mary informed you." 

Of course these objections wrought my eagerness to 
a climax : gratified it must be, and that without delay ; 
and I told him so. 

" But I apprised you that I was a hard man," said 
he ; " difficult to persuade." 

" And I am a hard woman, — impossible to put off." 

" And then," he pursued, " I am cold : no fervour 
infects me." 

" Whereas I am hot, and fire dissolves ice. The 
blaze there has thawed all the snow from your cloak ; 
by the same token, it has streamed on to my floor, and 
made it like a trampled street. As you hope ever to be 
forgiven, Mr Rivers, the high crime and misdemeanour 
of spoiling a sanded kitchen, tell me what I wish to 
know." 

" Well, then," he said, " I yield ; if not to your 
earnestness, to your perseverance : as stone is worn by 
continual dropping. Besides, you must know some day, 
— as well now as later. Your name is Jane Eyre ? " 

" Of course : that was all settled before." 

" You are not, perhaps, aware that I am your name- 
sake ? — that I was christened St John Eyre Rivers ? " 

" No, indeed ! I remember now seeing the letter E, 
comprised in your initials written in books you have at 
different times lent me ; but I never asked for what 
name it stood. But what then ? Surely " 

I stopped : I could not trust myself to entertain, 
much less to express, the thought that rushed upon me 
— that embodied itself, — that, in a second, stood out a 
strong, solid probability. Circumstances knit themselves, 
fitted themselves, shot into order : the chain that had 
been lying hitherto a formless lump of links, was drawn 
out straight, — every ring was perfect, the connection 



JANE EYRE. I97 

complete. I knew by instinct, how the matter stood, 
before St John had said another word : but I cannot 
expect the reader to have the same intuitive perception, 
so I must repeat his explanation. 

" My mother's name was Eyre ; she had two 
brothers ; one a clergyman, who married Miss Jane 
Reed, of Gateshead ; the other, John Eyre, Esq., 
merchant, late of Funchal, Madeira. Mr Briggs, 
being Mr Eyre's solicitor, wrote to us last August to 
inform us of our uncle's death ; and to say that he had 
left his property to his brother the clergyman's orphan 
daughter ; overlooking us, in consequence of a quarrel, 
never forgiven, between him and my father. He wrote 
again a few weeks since, to intimate that the heiress 
was lost ; and asking if we knew anything of her. A 
name casually written on a slip of paper has enabled me 
to find her out. You know the rest." Again he was 
going, but I set my back against the door. 

" Do let me speak," I said ; " let me have one 
moment to draw breath and reflect." I paused — he 
stood before me, hat in hand, looking composed enough. 
I resumed : — 

" Your mother was my father's sister." 

•' Yes." 

" My aunt, consequently ? " 

He bowed. 

" My uncle John was your uncle John ? You, Diana 
and Mary, are his sister's children; as I am his brother's 
child ? " 

" Undeniably." 

" You three, then, are my cousins ; half our blood on 
each side flows from the same source ? " 

" We are cousins ; yes." 

I surveyed him. It seemed I had found a brother : 
one I could be proud of, — one I could love ; and two 
sisters, whose qualities were such, that, when I knew 



1 98 JANE EYRE. 

them but as mere strangers, they had inspired me with 
genuine afFection and admiration. The two girls, on 
whom, kneeling down on the wet ground, and looking 
through the low, latticed window of Moor House 
kitchen, I had gazed with so bitter a mixture of interest 
and despair, were my near kinswomen ; and the young 
and stately gentleman who had found me almost dying 
at his threshold, was my blood relation. Glorious dis- 
covery to a lonely wretch ! This was wealth indeed ! 
— wealth to the heart! — a mine of pure, genial affec- 
tions. This was a blessing, bright, vivid, and exhilarat- 
ing ; — not like the ponderous gift of gold : rich and 
welcome enough in its way, but sobering from its weight. 
I now clapped my hands in sudden joy — my pulse 
bounded, my veins thrilled. 

" Oh, I am glad ! — I am glad ! " I exclaimed. 
St John smiled. " Did I not say you neglected 
essential points to pursue trifles ? " he asked. " You 
were serious when I told you you had got a fortune ; 
and now, for a matter of no moment, you are excited." 
" What can you mean ? It may be of no moment to 
you ; you have sisters, and don't care for a cousin ; but 
I had nobody ; and now three relations, — or two, if you 
don't choose to be counted, — are born into my world 
full grown. I say again, I am glad ! " 

I walked fast through the room : I stopped, half 
suffocated with the thoughts that rose faster than I could 
receive, comprehend, settle them : — thoughts of what 
might, could, would, and should be, and that ere long. 
1 looked at the blank wall : it seemed a sky, thick with 
ascending stars, — every one lit me to a purpose or de- 
light. Those who had saved my life, whom, till this 
hour, I had loved barrenly, I could now benefit. They 
were under a yoke : I could free them : they were 
scattered, — I could reunite them — the independence, 
the affluence which was mine, might be theirs too. 



JANE EYRE. I99 

Were we not four ? Twenty thousand pounds shared 
equally, would be five thousand each, — enougli and to 
spare : justice would be done, — mutual happiness 
secured. Now the wealth did not weigh on me : now 
it was not a mere bequest of coin, — it was a legacy of 
life, hope, enjoyment. 

How I looked while these ideas were taking my 
spirit by storm, I cannot tell ; but I perceived soon that 
Mr Rivers had placed a chair behind me, and was 
gently attempting to make me sit down on it. He also 
advised me to be composed : I scorned the insinuation 
of helplessness and distraction, shook off his hand, and 
began to walk about again. 

"Write to Diana and Mary to-morrow," I said, 
*'and tell them to come home directly; Diana said they 
would both consider themselves rich with a thousand 
pounds, so with five thousand, they will do very 
well." 

" Tell me where I can get you a glass of water," said 
St John ; " you must really make an effort to tranquillise 
your feelings." 

" Nonsense ! and what sort of an effect will the 
bequest have on you ? Will it keep you in England, 
induce you to marry Miss Oliver, and settle down like 
an ordinary mortal ? " 

" You wander : your head becomes confused, I have 
been too abrupt in communicating the news ; it has 
excited you beyond your strength." 

" Mr Rivers ! you quite put me out of patience ; I 
am rational enough ; it is you who misunderstand ; or 
rather who affect to misunderstand." 

" Perhaps if you explained yourself a little more fully, 
I should comprehend better." 

" Explain ! What is there to explain ? You can- 
not fail to see that twenty thousand pounds, the sum in 
question, divided equally between the nephew and three 



200 JANE EYRE 

nieces of our uncle, will give five thousand to each ? 
What I want is, that you should write to your sisters 
and tell them of the fortune that has accrued to them." 

" To you, you mean." 

" I have intimated my view of the case : I am in- 
capable of taking any other. I am not brutally selfish, 
blindly unjust, or fiendishly ungrateful. Besides, I am 
resolved I will have a home and connections. I like 
Moor House, and I will live at Moor House ; I like 
Diana and Mary, and I will attach myself for life to 
Diana and Mary. It would please and benefit me to 
have five thousand pounds ; it would torment and op- 
press me to have twenty thousand ; which, moreover, 
could never be mine in justice, though it might in law. 
I abandon to you, then, what is absolutely superfluous 
to me. Let there be no opposition, and no discussion 
about it ; let us agree amongst each other, and decide 
the point at once." 

" This is acting on first impulses ; you must take days 
to consider such a matter, ere your word can be regarded 
as valid." 

" Oh ! if all you doubt is my sincerity, I am easy : 
you see the justice of the case ? " 

" I do see a certain justice ; but it is contrary to all 
custom. Besides, the entire fortune is your right : my 
uncle gained it by his own efforts ; he was free to leave 
it to whom he would : he left it to you. After all, 
justice permits you to keep it : you may, with a clear 
conscience, consider it absolutely your own." 

" With me," said I, " it is fully as much a matter 
of feeling as of conscience : I must indulge my feelings ; 
I so seldom have had an opportunity of doing so. 
Were you to argue, object, and annoy me for a year, 
I could not forego the delicious pleasure of which I 
have caught a glimpse — that of repaying, in part, a 
mighty obligation, and winning to myself lite-long 
friends." 



JANE EYRE. 201 

" You think SO now," rejoined St John ; "because 
you do not know what it is to possess, nor consequently 
to enjoy wealth : you cannot form a notion of the im- 
portance twenty thousand pounds would give you ; of 
the place it would enable you to take in society ; of the 
prospects it would open to you : you cannot " 

" And you," I interrupted, " cannot at all imagine 
the craving I have for fraternal and sisterly love. I 
never had a home, I never had brother or sisters ; I 
must and will have them now : you are not reluctant to 
admit me and own me, are you ? " 

" Jane : I will be your brother — my sisters will be 
your sisters — without stipulating for this sacrifice of your 
just rights." 

" Brother ? Yes ; at the distance of a thousand 
leagues ! Sisters ? Yes ; slaving amongst strangers ! 
I, wealthy — gorged with gold I never earned and do 
not merit ! You, penniless ! Famous equality and 
fraternisation ! Close union ! Intimate attachment ! " 

" But, Jane, your aspirations after family ties and 
domestic happiness may be realised otherwise than by 
the means you contemplate : you may marry." 

" Nonsense, again ! Marry ! I don't want to 
marry, and never shall marry." 

" That is saying too much: such hazardous affirmations 
are a proof of the excitement under which you labour." 

" It is not saying too much : I know what I feel, and 
how averse are my inclinations to the bare thought of 
marriage. No one would take me for love ; and I will 
not be regarded in the light of a mere money-specula- 
tion. And I do not want a stranger — unsympathising 
alien, different from me ; I want my kindred : those 
with whom I have full fellow-feeling. Say again you 
will be my brother : when you uttered the words I was 
satisfied, happy ; repeat them, if you can, repeat tlicm 
sincerely." 



202 JANE EYRE. 

" I think I can. I know I have always loved my 
own sisters ; and I know on what my affection for them 
is grounded, — respect for their worth, and admiration 
of their talents. You too have principle and mind : 
your tastes and habits resemble Diana's and Mary's ; 
your presence is always agreeable to me ; in your con- 
versation I have already for some time found a salutary 
solace. I feel I can easily and naturally make room 
in my heart for you, as my third and youngest sister." 

" Thank you : that contents me for to-night. Now 
you had better go ; for if you stay longer, you will 
perhaps irritate me afresh by some mistrustful scruple." 

" And the school. Miss Eyre i It must now be shut 
up, I suppose ? " 

" No. I will retain my post of mistress till you get 
a substitute." 

He smiled approbation : we shook hands, and he took 
leave. 

I need not narrate in detail the further struggles I 
had, and arguments I used, to get matters regarding the 
legacy settled as I wished. My task was a very hard 
one : but, as I was absolutely resolved — as my cousins 
saw at length that my mind was really and immutably 
fixed on making a just division of the property — as they 
must in their own hearts have felt the equity of the in- 
tention ; and must, besides, have been innately conscious 
that in my place they would have done precisely what 
I wished to do — they yielded at length so far as to 
consent to put the affair to arbitration. The judges 
chosen were Mr Oliver and an able lawyer : both coin- 
cided in my opinion : I carried my point. The instm- 
ments of transfer were drawn out: St John, Diana, 
Mary, and I, each became possessed of a competency. 



JANE EYRE. 203 



Cljapter vtpib* 

IT was near Christmas by the time all was settled : 
the season of general holiday approached. I now 
closed Morton school ; taking care that the parting 
should not be barren on my side. Good fortune opens 
the hand as well as the heart wonderfully ; and to give 
somewhat when v/e have largely received, is but to 
afford a vent to the unusual ebullition of the sensations. 
I had long felt with pleasure that many of my rustic 
scholars liked me, and when we parted, that conscious- 
ness was confirmed : they manifested their affection 
plainly and strongly. Deep was my gratification to find 
I had really a place in their unsophisticated hearts : I 
promised them that never a week should pass in future 
that I did not visit them, and give them an hour's 
teaching in their school. 

Mr Rivers came up, as — having seen the classes, now 
numbering sixty girls, file out before me, and locked the 
door — I stood with the key in my hand, exchanging a 
few words of special farewell with some half-dozen of 
my best scholars : as decent, respectable, modest, and 
well-informed young women as could be found in the 
ranks of the British peasantry. And that is saying a 
great deal ; for after all, the British peasantry are the 
best taught, best mannered, most self-respecting of any 
in Europe : since those days I have seen paysannes and 
B'auerinnen ; and the best of them seemed to me 
ignorant, coarse, and besotted, compared with my 
Morton girls. 

" Do you consider you have got your reward for a 
season of exertion ? " asked Mr Rivers, when they 
were gone. " Does not the consciousness of having 
done some real good in your day and generation give 
pleasure ? " 



204 JANE EYRE. 

" Doubtless." 

" And you have only toiled a few months ! Would 
not a life devoted to the task of regenerating your race 
be well spent ? " 

" Yes," I said ; " but I could not go on for ever so : 
I want to enjoy my own ficulties as well as to cultivate 
those of other people. I must enjoy them now ; don't 
recall either my mind or body to the school ; I am out 
of it and disposed for full holiday." 

He looked grave. " What now ? What sudden 
eagerness is this you evince ? What are you going to 
do?" 

" To be active : as active as I can. And first I 
must beg you to set Hannah at liberty, and get some- 
body else to wait on you." 

" Do you want her ? " 

" Yes, to go with me to Moor House : Diana and 
Mary will be at home in a week, and I want to have 
everything in order against their arrival." 

" I understand : I thought you were for flying off on 
some excursion. It is better so : Hannah shall go with 
you." 

" Tell her to be ready by to-morrow then ; and here 
is the schoolroom key : I will give you the key of my 
cottage in the morning." 

He took it. " You give it up very gleefully," said 
he : "I don't quite understand your light-heartedness ; 
because I cannot tell what employment you propose to 
yourself as a substitute for the one you are relinquishing. 
What aim, what purpose, what ambition in life have 
you now ? " 

" My first aim will be to clean donvn (do you com- 
prehend the full force of the expression ?) to clean down 
Moor House from chamber to cellar ; my next to rub 
it up with bees-wax, oil, and an indefinite number of 
cloths, till it glitters again j my third, to arrange every 



JANE EYRE. 205 

chair, table, bed, carpet, with mathematical precision ; 
afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat 
to keep up good fires in every room ; and lastly, the two 
days preceding that on which your sisters are expected, 
will be devoted by Hannah and me to such a beating of 
eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding 
of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials for mince- 
pies, and solemnising of other culinary rites, as words 
can convey but an inadequate notion of to the un- 
initiated like you. My purpose, in short, is to have all 
things in an absolutely perfect state of readiness for 
Diana and Mary, before next Thursday ; and my 
ambition is to give them a beau-ideal of a welcome 
when they come." 

St John smiled slightly : still he was dissatisfied. 

" It is all very well for the present," said he : "but 
seriously, I trust that when the first flush of vivacity is 
over, you will look a little higher than domestic en- 
dearments and household joys." 

" The best things the world has ! " I interrupted. 

" No, Jane, no : this world is not the scene of 
fruition ; do not attempt to make it so : nor of rest ; 
do not turn slothful." 

" I mean, on the contrary, to be busy." 

" Jane, I excuse you for the present : two months' 
grace I allow you for the full enjoyment of your new 
position, and for pleasing yourself with this late-found 
charm of relationship ; but then, I hope you will begin 
to look beyond Moor House and Morton, and sisterly 
society, and the selfish calm and sensual comfort of 
civilised affluence. I hope your energies will then once 
more trouble you with their strength." 

I looked at him with surprise. " St John," I said, 
" I think you are almost wicked to talk so. I am 
disposed to be as content as a queen, and you try to 
stir me up to restlessness ! To what end ? " 



206 JANE EYRE. 

" To the end of turning to profit the talents which 
God has committed to your keeping ; and of which he 
will surely one day demand a strict account. Jane, I 
shall watch you closely and anxiously — I warn you of 
that. And try to restrain the disproportionate fervour 
with which you throw yourself into common -place 
home pleasures. Don't cling so tenaciously to ties of 
the flesh ; save your constancy and ardour for an 
adequate cause ; forbear to waste them on trite transient 
objects. Do you hear, Jane ? " 

" Yes ; just as if you were speaking Greek. I feel 
I have adequate cause to be happy, and I ivill be 
happy. Good-bye ! " 

Happy at Moor House I was, and hard I worked ; 
and so did Hannah : she was charmed to see how 
jovial I could be amidst the bustle of a house turned 
topsy-turvy — how I could dust, and brush, and clean, 
and cook. And really after a day or two of con- 
fusion worse confounded, it was delightful, by degrees, to 
invoke order from the chaos ourselves had made. T 

had previously taken a journey to S , to purchase 

some new furniture : my cousins having given me carte 
blanche to effect what alterations I pleased, and a sum 
having been set aside for that purpose. The ordinary 
sitting-room and bed-rooms I left much as they were : 
for I knew Diana and Mary would derive more 
pleasure from seeing again the old homely tables, and 
chairs, and beds, than from the spectacle of the smartest 
innovations. Still some novelty was necessary, to give 
to their return the piquancy with which I wished it to 
be invested. Dark handsome new carpets and curtains, 
an arrangement of some carefully selected antique 
ornaments in porcelain and bronze, new coverings, and 
mirrors, and dressing-cases for the toilet tables, answered 
the end : they looked fresh without being glaring. A 
spare parlour and bed-room I refurnished entirely, with 



JANE EYRE. 207 

old mahogany and crimson upholstery : I laid canvass 
on the passage, and carpets on the stairs. When all 
was finished, I thought Moor House as complete a 
model of bright modest snugness within, as it was, at 
this season, a specimen of wintry waste and desert 
dreariness without. 

The eventful Thursday at length came. They were 
expected about dark, and ere dusk, fires were lit up- 
stairs and below ; the kitchen was in perfect trim ; 
Hannah and I were dressed and all was in readiness. 

St John arrived first. I had entreated him to keep 
quite clear of the house till everything was arranged : 
and, indeed, the bare idea of the commotion, at once 
sordid and trivial, going on within its walls sufficed to 
scare him to estrangement. He found me in the kitchen, 
watching the progress of certain cakes for tea, then 
baking. Approaching the hearth, he asked, " If I was 
at last satisfied with housemaid's work ? " I answered 
by inviting him to accompany me on a general inspec- 
tion of the result of my labours. With some difficulty, 
I got him to make the tour of the house. He just 
looked in at the doors I opened ; and when he had 
wandered upstairs and downstairs, he said I must have 
gone through a gi"eat deal of fatigue and trouble to have 
effected such considerable changes in so short a time : 
but not a syllable did he utter indicating pleasure in the 
improved aspect of his abode. 

This silence damped me. I thought pei-haps the 
alterations had disturbed some old associations he valued. 
I inquired whether this was the case : no doubt in a 
somewhat crest-fallen tone. 

" Not at all ; he had, on the contrary, remarked that 
I had scrupulously respected every association : he 
feared, indeed, I must have bestowed more thought on 
the matter tlian it was worth. How many minutes, 
for instance, had I devoted to studying the arrangement 



2o8 JANE EYRE. 

of this very room ? — By-the-by, could I tell him where 
such a book was ? " 

I showed him the volume on the shelf: he took it 
down and withdrawing to his accustomed window recess, 
he began to read it. 

Now, I did not like this, reader. St John was a 
good man ; but I began to feel he had spoken truth of 
himself, when he; aid he was hard and cold. The 
humanities and amenities of life had no attraction for 
him — its peaceful enjoyments no charm. Literally, he 
lived only to aspire — after what was good and great, 
certainly : but still he would never rest ; nor approve of 
others resting round him. As I looked at his lofty 
forehead, still and pale as a white stone — at his fine linea- 
ments fixed in study — I comprehended all at once that 
he would hardly make a good husband : that it would 
be a trying thing to be his wife. I understood, as by 
inspiration, the nature of his love for Miss Oliver ; 
I agreed with him that it was but a love of the senses. 
I comprehended how he should despise himself for the 
feverish influence it exercised over him ; how he should 
wish to stifle and destroy it ; how he should mistrust its 
ever conducing permanently to his happiness, or hers. 
I saw he was of the material from which nature hews 
her heroes — Christian and Pagan — her lawgivers, her 
statesmen, her conquerors : a steadfast bulwark for great 
interests to rest upon ; but, at the fireside, too often a 
cold cumbrous column, gloomy and out of place. 

"This parlour is not his sphere," I reflected : "the 
Himalayan ridge, or Caffre bush, even the plague- 
cursed Guinea Coast swamp, would suit him better. 
Well may he eschew the calm of domestic life ; it is not 
his element : there his faculties stagnate — they cannot 
develop or appear to advantage. It is in scenes of strife 
and danger — where courage is proved, and energy exer- 
cised, and fortitude tasked — that he will speak and move. 



JANE EYRE. 209 

the leader and superior. A merry child would have 
the advantage of him on this hearth. He is right to 
choose a missionary's career — I see it now." 

" They are coming ! they are coming ! " cried 
Hannah, throwing open the parlour door. At the same 
moment old Carlo barked joyfully. Out I ran. It was 
now dark ; but a rumbling of wheels was audible. 
Hannah soon had a lantern lit. The vehicle had 
stopped at the wicket : the driver opened the door : first 
one well-known form, then another, stepped out. In a 
minute I had my face under their bonnets, in contact 
first with Mary's soft cheek, then with Diana's flowing 
curls. They laughed — kissed me — then Hannah : 
patted Carlo, who was half wild with delight, asked 
eagerly if all was well ; and being assured in the affir- 
mative, hastened into the house. 

They were stiff with their long and jolting drive from 
Whitcross, and chilled with the frosty night air ; but 
their pleasant countenances expanded to the cheerful 
fire light. While the driver and Hannah brought in the 
boxes, they demanded St John. At this moment he 
advanced from the parlour. They both threw their 
arms round his neck at once. He gave each one quiet 
kiss, said in a low tone a few words of welcome, stood 
a while to be talked to, and then, intimating that he 
supposed they would soon rejoin him in the parlour, 
withdrew there as to a place of refuge. 

I had lit their candles to go upstairs, but Diana had 
first to give hospitable orders respecting the driver ; this 
done, both followed me. They were delighted with 
the renovation and decoration of their rooms ; with the 
new drapery, and fresh carpets, and rich tinted china 
vases : they expressed their gratification ungrudgingly. 
I had the pleasure of feeling that my arrangements met 
their wishes exactly ; and that what I had done added 
a vivid charm to their joyous return home. 
II. O 



2IO JANE EYRE. 

Sweet was that evening. My cousins, full of 
exhilaration, were so eloquent in narrative and com- 
ment, that their fluency covered St John's taciturnity : 
he was sincerely glad to see his sisters ; but in their 
glow of fervour and flow of joy he could not sympa- 
thise. The event of the day — that is, the return oi 
Diana and Mary — pleased him ; but the accompaniments 
of that event, the glad tumult, the garrulous glee of 
reception, irked him : 1 saw he wished the quieter 
mon-ow was come. In the very meridian of the night's 
enjoyment, about an hour after tea, a rap was heard at 
the door. Hannah entered with the intimation that 
" a poor lad was come, at that unlikely time, to fetch 
Mr Rivers to see his mother, who was drawing away." 

" Where does she live, Hannah ? " 

" Clear up at Whitcross Brow, almost four miles 
off; and moor and moss all the way." 

" Tell him I will go." 

" I'm sure, sir, you had better not. It's the worst 
road to travel after dark that can be : there's no track 
at all over the bog. And then it is such a bitter night 
— the keenest wind you ever felt. You had better send 
word, sir, that you will be there in the morning." 

But he was already in the passage, putting on his 
cloak ; and without one objection, one murmur, he 
departed. It was then nine o'clock : he did not 
return till midnight. Starved and tired enough he was : 
but he looked happier than when he set out. He had 
performed an act of duty ; made an exertion ; felt his 
own strength to do and deny, and was on better terms 
with himself. 

I am afraid the whole of the ensuing week tried his 
patience. It was Christmas week : we took to no 
settled employment, but spent it in a sort of meny 
domestic dissipation. The air of the moors, the free- 
dom of home, the dawn of prosperity, acted on Diana 



JANE EYRE. 2 1 r 

and Mary's spirits like some life-giving elixir : they 
were gay from morning till noon, and from noon till 
night. They could always talk ; and their discourse, 
witty, pithy, original, had such charms for me, that I 
preferred listening to, and sharing in it, to doing any- 
thing else. St John did not rebuke our vivacity ; but 
he escaped from it : he was seldom in the house ; his 
parish was large, the population scattered, and he found 
daily business in visiting the sick and poor in its 
different districts. 

One morning, at breakfast, Diana, after looking 
a little pensive for some minutes, asked him, " If his 
plans were yet unchanged ? " 

" Unchanged and unchangeable," was the reply. 
And he proceeded to inform us that his departure from 
England was now definitely fixed for the ensuing year. 

" And Rosamond Oliver ? " suggested Mary : the 
words seeming to escape her lips involuntarily : for no 
sooner had she uttered them, than she made a gesture 
as if wishing to recall them. St John had a book in 
his hand — it was his unsocial custom to read at meals — 
he closed it, and looked up. 

" Rosamond Oliver," said he, " is about to be married 
to Mr Granby ; one of the best connected and most 

estimable residents in S , grandson and heir to Sir 

Frederic Granby : I had the intelligence from her 
father yesterday." 

His sisters looked at each other, and at me ; we all 
three looked at him : he was serene as glass. 

" The match must have been got up hastily," said 
Diana: "they cannot have known each other long." 

" But two months : they met in October at the 

county ball at S . But where there are no 

obstacles to a union, as in the present case, where the 
connection is in every point desirable, delays are un- 
necessary : they will be married as soon as S 



212 JANE EYRE. 

Place, which Sir Frederic gives up to them, can be 
refitted for their reception." 

The first time I found St John alone after this com- 
munication, I felt tempted to inquire if the event dis- 
tressed him : but he seemed so little to need sympathy, 
that, so far from venturing to offer him more, I experi- 
enced some shame at the recollection of what I had 
already hazarded. Besides, I was out of practice in 
talking to him : his reserve was again frozen over, and. 
my frankness was congealed beneath it. He had not 
kept his promise of treating me like his sisters ; he con- 
tinually made little, chilling differences between us, 
which did not at all tend to the development of cor- 
diality : in short, now that I was acknowledged his 
kinswoman, and lived under the same roof with him, I 
felt the distance between us to be far greater than when he 
had known me only as the village schoolmistress. When 
I remembered how far I had once been admitted to his 
confidence, I could hardly comprehend his present 
frigidity. 

Such being the case, I felt not a little surprised when 
he raised his head suddenly from the desk over which 
he was stooping, and said : — 

" You see, Jane, the battle is fought and the victory 
won." 

Startled at being thus addressed, I did not immedi- 
ately reply : after a moment's hesitation I answered : — 

" But are you sure, you are not in the position of 
those conquerors whose triumphs have cost them too 
dear ? Would not such another ruin you ? " 

" I think not ; and if I were, it does not much sig- 
nify ; I shall never be called upon to contend for such 
another. The event of the conflict is decisive : my 
way is now clear ; I thank God for it ! " So saying, 
he returned to his papers and his silence. 

As our mutual happiness (/.^. Diana's, Mary's, and 



JANE EYRE. 213 

mine) settled into a quieter character, and we resumed 
our usual habits and regular studies, St John stayed 
more at home : he sat with us in the same room, 
sometimes for hours together. While Mary drew, 
Diana pursued a course of encyclopsedic reading she 
had (to my awe and amazement) undertaken, and I 
fagged away at German, he pondered a mystic lore of 
his own : that of some Eastern tongue, the acquisition 
of which he thought necessary to his plans. 

Thus engaged, he appeared, sitting in his own recess, 
quiet and absorbed enough ; but that blue eye of his had 
a habit of leaving the outlandish-looking grammar, and 
wandering over, and sometimes fixing upon us, his fel- 
low-students, with a curious intensity of observation : 
if caught, it would be instantly withdrawn ; yet ever 
and anon, it returned searchingly to our table. I won- 
dered what it meant : I wondered, too, at the punctual 
satisfaction he never failed to exhibit on an occasion that 
seemed to me of small moment, namely, — my weekly 
visit to Morton school ; and still more was I puzzled 
when, if the day was unfavourable, if there was snow, or 
rain, or high wind, and his sisters urged me not to go, 
he would invariably make light of their solicitude, and 
encourage me to accomplish the task without regard to 
the elements. 

" Jane is not such a weakling as you would make 
her," he would say : " she can bear a mountain blast, or 
a shower, or a few flakes of snow, as well as any of us. 
Her constitution is both sound and elastic : — better cal- 
culated to endure variations of climate than many more 
robust." 

And when I returned, sometimes a good deal tired, 
and not a little weather-beaten, i never dared complain, 
because I saw that to murmur would be to vex him : on 
all occasions fortitude pleased him ; tlie reverse was a 
special annoyance. 



214 JANE EYRE. 

One afternoon, however, I got leave to stay at home, 
because I really had a cold. His sisters were gone to 
Morton in my stead : I sat reading Schiller ; he, de- 
ciphering his crabbed Oriental scrolls. As I exchanged 
a translation for an exercise, I happened to look, his 
way : there I found myself under the influence of the 
ever-watchful blue eye. How long it had been search- 
ing me through and through, and over and over, I 
cannot tell : so keen was it, and yet so cold, I felt for 
the moment superstitious — as if I were sitting in the 
room with something uncanny. 

" Jane, what are you doing ? " 

" Learning German." 

" I want you to give up German, and learn Hin- 
dostanee." 

" You are not in earnest ? " 

" In such earnest that 1 must have it so : and I will 
tell you why." 

He then went on to explain that Hindostanee was 
the language he himself was at present studying : that, 
as he advanced, he was apt to forget the commence- 
ment ; that it would assist him greatly to have a pupil 
with whom he might again and again go over the ele- 
ments, and so fix them thoroughly in his mind ; that 
his choice had hovered for some time between me and 
his sisters ; but that he had fixed on me, because he saw I 
could sit at a task the longest of the three. Would I 
do him this favour ? I should not, perhaps, have to 
make the sacrifice long ; as it wanted now barely three 
months to his departure. 

St John was not a man to be lightly refused : you felt 
that every impression made on him, either for pain or 
pleasure, was deep-graved and permanent. I consented. 
When Diana and Mary returned, the former found her 
scholar transferred from her to her brother : she laughed ; 
and both she and Mary agreed that St John should 



JANE EYRE. 215 

never have persuaded them to such a step. He answered, 
quietly : — 

« I know it." 

I found him a very patient, very forbearing, and yet 
an exacting master : he expected me to do a great deal ; 
and when I fulfilled his expectations, he, in his own 
way, fully testified his approbation. By degrees, he 
acquired a certain influence over me that took away my 
liberty of mind : his praise and notice were more re- 
straining than his indifference. I could no longer talk 
or laugh freely when he was by ; because a tiresomely 
importunate instinct reminded me that vivacity (at least 
in rae) was distasteful to him. I was so fully aware 
that only serious moods and occupations were acceptable, 
that in his presence every effort to sustain or follow anv 
other became vain : I fell under a freezing spell. When 
he said "go," I went; "come," I came; "do this," 
I did it. But I did not love my servitude : I wished, 
many a time, he had continued to neglect me. 

One evening when, at bedtime, his sisters and I stood 
round him, bidding him good-night, he kissed each of 
them, as was his custom ; and, as was equally his 
custom, he gave me his hand. Diana, who chanced to 
be in a frolicsome humour {^she was not painfully con- 
trolled by his will ; for hers, in another way, was as 
strong), exclaimed : — 

" St John ! you used to call Jane your third sister, 
but you don't treat her as such : you should kiss her 
too." 

She pushed me towards him. I thought Diana very 
provoking, and felt uncomfortably confused ; and while 
I was thus thinking and feeling, St John bent his head ; 
his Greek face was brought to a level with mine, his 
eyes questioned my eyes piercingly — he kissed me. 
There are no such things as maible kisses, or ice kisses, 
or I should say, my ecclesiastical cousin's salute belonged 



il6 )ANE EYRE. 

to one of these classes ; but there may be experiment 
kisses, and his was an experiment kiss. When given, 
he viewed me to learn the result ; it was not striking : 
I am sure I did not blush ; perhaps 1 might have 
turned a little pale, for I felt as if this kiss were a seal 
affixed to my fetters. He never omitted the ceremony 
afterwards, and the gravity and quiescence with which 
I underwent it, seemed to invest it for him with a 
certain charm. 

As for me, I daily wished more to please him : but 
to do so, I felt daily more and more that I must disown 
half my nature, stifle half my faculties, wrest my tastes 
from their original bent, force myself to the adoption of 
pursuits for which I had no natural vocation. He wanted 
to train me to an elevation I could never reach ; it racked 
me hourly to aspire to the standard he uplifted. The 
thing was as impossible as to mould my irregular 
features to his correct and classic pattern, to give to my 
changeable green eyes the sea-blue tint and solemn 
lustre of his own. 

Not his ascendancy alone, however, held me in thrall 
at present. Of late it had been easy enough for me to 
look sad : a cankering evil sat at my heart and drained 
my happiness at its source — the evil of suspense. 

Perhaps you think I had forgotten Mr Rochester, 
reader, amidst these changes of place and fortune. Not 
for a moment. His idea was still with me ; because it 
was not a vapour sunshine could disperse ; nor a sand- 
traced effigy storms could wash away : it was a name 
graven on a tablet, fated to last as long as the marble it 
inscribed. The craving to know what had become of 
him followed me everywhere ; when I was at Morton, 
I re-entered my cottage every evening to think of that ; 
and now at Moor House, I sought my bed-room each 
night to brood over it. 

In the course of my necessary correspondence with 



JANE EYRE. 21 7 

Mr Briggs about the will, I had inquired if he knew 
anything of Mr Rochester's present residence and state 
of heahh ; but, as St John had conjectured, he was 
quite ignorant of all concerning him. I then wrote to 
Mrs Fairfax, entreating information on the subject. I 
had calculated with certainty on this step answering 
my end : I felt sure it would elicit an early answer. I 
was astonished when a fortnight passed without reply ; 
but when two months wore away, and day after day 
the post arrived and brought nothing for me, I fell a 
prey to the keenest anxiety. 

I wrote again : there was a chance of my first letter 
having missed. Renewed hope followed renewed 
effort : it shone like the former for some weeks, then, 
like it, it faded, flickered : not a line, not a word 
reached me. When half a year wasted in vain 
expectancy my hope died out : and then I felt dark 
indeed. 

A fine spring shone round me, which I could not 
enjoy. Summer approached ; Diana tried to cheer me : 
she said I looked ill, and wished to accompany me to 
the sea-side. This St John opposed ; he said I did not 
want dissipation, I wanted employment ; my present life 
was too purposeless, I required an aim ; and, I suppose, 
by way of supplying deficiencies, he prolonged still 
further my lessons in Hindostanee, and grew more 
urgent in requiring their accomplishment : and I, like a 
fool, never thought of resisting him — I could not resist 
him. 

One day I had come to my studies in lower spiiits 
than usual ; the ebb was occasioned by a poignantly felt 
disappointment : Hannah had told me in the morning 
there was a letter for me, and when I went down to 
take it, almost certain that the long looked-for tidings 
were vouchsafed me at last, I found only an unimportant 
note from Mi' Briggs on business. The bitter check had 



2l8 JANE EYRE. 

wrung from me some tears ; and now as I sat poring 
over the crabbed characters and flourishing tropes of an 
Indian scribe, my eyes filled again. 

St John called me to his side to read ; in attempting 
to do this my voice failed me : words were lost in sobs. 
He and I were the only occupants of the parlour : Diana 
was practising her music in the drawing-room, Mary was 
gardening — it was a very fine May-day, clear, sunny, and 
breezy. My companion expressed no surprise at this 
emotion, nor did he question me as to its cause ; he only 
said : — 

" We will wait a few minutes, Jane, till you are more 
composed." And while I smothered the paroxysm 
with all haste, he sat calm and patient, leaning on his 
desk and looking like a physician watching with the 
eye of science an expected and fully-understood crisis 
in a patient's malady. Having stifled my sobs, wiped 
my eyes, and muttered something about not being very 
well that morning, I resumed my task, and succeeded 
in completing it. St John put away my books and his, 
locked his desk, and said : — 

" Now, Jane, you shall take a walk ; and with 
me." 

" I will call Diana and Mary." 

" No. I want only one companion this morning, and 
that must be you : put on your things ; go out by the 
kitchen door : take the road towards the head of Marsh 
Glen : T will join you in a moment." 

I know no medium : I never in my life have known 
any medium in my dealings with positive, hard charac- 
ters, antagonistic to my own, between absolute submission 
and determined revolt. I have always faithfully ob- 
served the one, up to the very moment of bursting, 
sometimes with volcanic vehemence, into the other ; 
and as neither present circumstances warranted, nor my 
present mood inclined me to mutiny, 1 observed careful 



JANE EYRE. ' 219 

obedience to St John's directions ; and in ten minutes 
I was treading the wild track of the glen, side by side 
with him. 

The breeze was from the west : it came over the 
hills, sweet with scents of heath and rush ; the sky was 
of stainless blue ; the stream descending the ravine, 
swelled with past spring rains, poured along plentiful 
and clear, catching golden gleams from the sun, and 
sapphire tints from the firmament. As we advanced 
and left the track, we trod a soft turf, mossy fine and 
emerald green, minutely enamelled with a tiny white 
flower, and spangled with a star-like yellow blossom : 
the hills, meantime, shut us quite in ; for the glen, 
towards its head, wound to their very core. 

" Let us rest here," said St John, as we reached the 
first stragglers of a battalion of rocks, guarding a sort of 
pass, beyond which the beck rushed down a waterfall ; 
and where, still a little further, the mountain shook off 
turf and flower, had only heath for laiment, and crag 
for gem — where it exaggerated the wild to the savage, 
and exchanged the fresh for the frowning — where it 
guarded the forlorn hope of solitude, and a last refuge 
for silence. 

I took a seat : St John stood near me. He looked 
up the pass and down the hollow ; his glance wandered 
away with the stream, and returned to traverse the un- 
clouded heaven which coloured it : he removed his hat, 
let the breeze stir his hair and kiss his brow. He 
seemed in communion with the genius of the haunt : 
with his eye he bade farewell to something. 

"And I shall see it again," he said aloud, "in dreams, 
when I sleep by the Ganges : and again, in a more 
remote hour — when another slumber overcomes me — 
on the shore of a darker stream." 

Strange words of a strange love ! An austere 
patriot's passion for his fatherland 1 He sat down ; for 



2 20 JANE EYRE. 

half an hour we never spoke ; neither he to me nor I 
to him : that interval passed, he recommenced : — 

" Jane, I go in six weeks : I have taken my berth in 
an East Indiaman which sails on the twentieth of June." 
" God will protect you ; for you have undertaken His 
work," I answered. 

" Yes," said he, " there is my glory and joy. I am 
the servant of an infallible master. I am not going out 
under human guidance, subject to the defective laws 
and erring control of my feeble fellow-worms : my 
king, my lawgiver, my captain, is the All-perfect. It 
seems strange to me that all round me do not burn to 
enlist under the same banner, — to join in the same 
enterprise." 

" All have not your powers : and it would be folly 
for the feeble to wish to march with the strong." 

" I do not speak to the feeble, or think of them : I 
address only such as are worthy of the work, and com- 
petent to accomplish it." 

" Those are few in number, and difficult to discover." 
" You say truly : but when found, it is right to stir 
them up — to urge and exhort them to the effort — to 
show them what their gifts are, and why they were 
given — to speak Heaven's message in their ear, — to 
offer them, direct from God, a place in the ranks of His 
chosen." 

" If they are really qualified for the task, will not 
their own hearts be the first to inform them of it ? " 

I felt as if an awful charm was framing round and 

gathering over me : I trembled to hear some fatal word 

spoken which would at once declare and rivet the spell. 

" And what does your heart say ? " demanded St 

John. 

"My heart is mute, — my heart is mute," I answered, 
struck and thrilled. 

" Then I must speak for it," continued the deep, 



JANE EYRE. 221 

relentless voice. "Jane, come with me to India : come 
as my helpmeet and fellow-labourer." 

The glen and sky spun round : the hills heaved ! It 
was as if I had heard a summons from Heaven — as if a 
visionary messenger, like him of Macedonia, had 
enounced, " Come over and help us ! " But I was no 
apostle, — I could not behold the herald, — I could not 
receive his call. 

" Oh, St John ! " I cried, " have some mercy ! " 

I appealed to one who, in the discharge of what he 
believed his duty, knew neither mercy nor remorse. He 
continued : — 

" God and nature intended you for a missionary's 
wife. It is not personal, but mental endowments they 
have given you : you are formed for labour, not for 
love. A missionary's wife you must — shall be. You 
shall be mine : I claim you — not for my pleasure, but 
for my Sovereign's service." 

" I am not fit for it : I have no vocation," I said. 

He had calculated on these first objections : he was 
not irritated by them. Indeed, as he leaned back 
against the crag behind him, folded his arms on his 
chest, and fixed his countenance, I saw he was pre- 
pared for a long and trying opposition, and had taken in 
a stock of patience to last him to its close — resolved, 
however, that that close should be conquest for him 

" Humility, Jane," said he, " is the groundwork of 
Christian virtues : you say right that you are not fit for 
the work. Who is fit for it ? Or who, that ever was 
truly called, believed himself worthy of the summons ? 
I, for instance, am but dust and ashes. With St Paul, 
I acknowledge myself the chiefest of sinners : but I do 
not suffer this sense of my personal vileness to daunt me. 
I know my Leader : that He is just as well as mighty ; 
and while He has chosen a feeble instrument to perform 
a great task. He will, from the boundless stores of His 



222 JANE EYRE. 

providence, supply the inadequacy of the means to the 
end. Think like me, Jane — trust like me. It is the 
Rock of Ages I ask you to lean on : do not doubt but 
it will bear the weight of your human weakness." 

" I do not understand a missionary life : I have 
never studied missionary labours." 

"There, I, humble as I am, can give you the aid you 
want : I can set you your task from hour to hour ; 
stand by you always ; help you from moment to 
moment. This I could do in the beginning: soon (for 
I know your powers) you would be as strong and apt 
as myself, and would not require my help." 

" But my powers — where are they for this under- 
taking ? I do not feel them. Nothing speaks or stirs in me 
while you talk. I am sensible of no light kindling — no 
life quickening — no voice counselling or cheering. Oh, 
I wish I could make you see how much my mind is at 
this moment like a rayless dungeon, with one shrinking 
fear fettered in its depths — the fear of being persuaded 
by you to attempt what I cannot accomplish ! " 

" I have an answer for you — hear it. I have 
watched you ever since we first met: I have made you 
my study for ten months. I have proved you in that 
time by sundry tests : and what have I seen and elicited ? 
In the village school I found you could perform well, 
punctually, uprightly, labour uncongenial to your habits 
and inclinations ; I saw you could perform it with 
capacity and tact : you could win while you controlled. 
In the calm with which you learnt you had become 
suddenly rich, I read a mind clear of the vice of Demas : 
— lucre had no undue power over you. In the resolute 
readiness with which you cut your wealth into four 
shares, keeping but one to yourself, and relinquishing the 
three others to the claim of abstract justice, I recognised 
a soul that revelled in the flame and excitement of sacri- 
fice. In the tractability with which, at my wish, you 



JANE EYRE. 223 

forsook a study in which you were interested, and 
adopted another because it interested me ; in the un- 
tiring assiduity with which you have since persevered 
in it — in the unflagging energy and unshaken temper 
with which you have met its difficulties — I acknowledge 
the complement of the qualities I seek. Jane, you are 
docile, diligent, disinterested, faithful, constant, and cour- 
ageous ; very gentle, and very heroic : cease to mistrust 
yourself — I can trust you unreservedly. As a con- 
ductress of Indian schools, and a helper amongst Indian 
women, your assistance will be to me invaluable." 

My iron shroud contracted round me ; persuasion 
advanced with slow sure step. Shut my eyes as I would, 
these last words of his succeeded in making the way, 
which had seemed blocked up, comparatively clear. 
My work, which had appeared so vague, so hopelessly 
diffuse, condensed itself as he proceeded, and assumed 
a definite form under his shaping hand. He waited for 
an answer. I demanded a quarter of an hour to think, 
before I again hazarded a reply. 

"Very willingly," he rejoined: and rising, he strode 
a little distance up the pass, threw himself down on a 
swell of heath, and there lay still. 

" I can do what he wants me to do : I am forced to 
see and acknowledge that," I meditated — " That is, if 
life be spared me. But I feel mine is not the existence 
to be long protracted under an Indian sun. — What 
then ? He does not care for that : when my time 
came to die he would resign me, in all serenity and 
sanctity, to the God who gave me. The case is very 
plain before me. In leaving England, I should leave a 
loved but empty land — Mr Rochester is not there : and 
if he were, what is, what can that ever be to me ? 
My business is to live without him now : nothing so 
absurd, so weak as to drag on from day to day, as if I 
were waiting some impossible change in circumstances, 



2 24 JANE EYRE. 

which might reunite me to him. Of course (as St John 
once said) I must seek another interest in life to replace 
the one lost : is not the occupation he now offers me 
truly the most glorious man can adopt or God assign ? 
Is it not, by its noble cares and sublime results, the one 
best calculated to fill the void left by uptorn affections 
and demolished hopes ? I believe I must say, Yes 
— and yet I shudder. Alas ! If I join St John, I 
abandon half myself: if I go to India, I go to pre- 
mature death. And how will the interval between 
leaving England for India, and India for the grave, be 
filled ? Oh, I know well ! That, too, is very clear to 
my vision. By straining to satisfy St John till my 
sinews ache, I shall satisfy him — to the finest central 
point and farthest outward circle of his expectations. 
If I do go with him — if I do make the sacrifice he 
urges, I will make it absolutely : I will throw all on 
the altar — heart, vitals, the entire victim. He will 
never love me ; but he shall approve me ; I will show 
him energies he has not yet seen, resources he has never 
suspected. Yes : I can work as hard as he can ; and 
with as little grudging. 

" Consent, then, to his demand is possible : but for 
one item — one dreadful item. It is — that he asks me to 
be his wife, and has no more of a husband's heart for 
me than that frowning giant of a rock, down which the 
stream is foaming in yonder gorge. He prizes me as 
a soldier would a good weapon ; and that is all. Un- 
married to him, this would never grieve me ; but can I 
let him complete his calculations — coolly put into prac- 
tice his plans — go through the wedding ceremony ? 
Can I receive from him the bridal ring, endure all the 
forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupu- 
lously observe) and know that the spirit was quite 
absent ? Can I bear the consciousness that every en- 
dearment he bestows is a sacrifice made on principle ? 



JANE EYRE. 225 

No : such a martyrdom would be monstrous. I will 
never undergo it. As his sister, I might accompany 
him — not as his wife : I will tell him so." 

I looked towards the knoll : there he lay, still as a 
prostrate column ; his face turned to me : his eye 
beaming watchful, and keen. He started to his feet, 
and approached me. 

" 1 am ready to go to India, if I may go free." 

" Your answer requires a commentary," he said ; " it 
is not clear." 

" You have hitherto been my adopted brother : 1, your 
adopted sister ; let us continue as such : you and I had 
better not marry." 

He shook his head. " Adopted fraternity will not 
do in this case. If you were my real sister it would be 
different : I should take you, and seek no wife. But as 
it is, either our union must be consecrated and sealed by 
marriage, or it cannot exist : practical obstacles oppose 
themselves to any other plan. Do you not see it, Jane ? 
Consider a moment — your strong sense will guide you." 

I did consider : and still my sense, such as it was, 
directed me only to the fact that we did not love each 
other as man and wife should ; and therefore it inferred 
we ought not to marry. I said so. " St John," I re- 
turned, " I regard you as a brother — you, me as a 
sister : so let us continue." 

" We cannot — we cannot," he answered, with short, 
sharp determination : " it would not do. You have said 
you will go with me to India : remember — you have 
said that." 

" Conditionally." 

" Well — well. To the main point — the departure 
with me from England, the co-operation with me in my 
future labours — you do not object. You have already 
as good as put your hand to the plough : you are too 
consistent to withdraw it. You have but one end to keep 

II. P 



2 26 JANE EYRE, 

in view — how the work you have undertaken can best 
be done. Simplify your complicated interests, feelings, 
thoughts, wishes, aims ; merge all considerations in one 
purpose : that of fulfilling with effect — with power — 
the mission of your great Master. To do so, you must 
have a coadjutor — not a brother ; that is a loose tie : 
but a husband. I, too, do not want a sister : a sister 
might any day be taken from me. I want a wife : the 
sole helpmeet I can influence efficiently in life, and 
retain absolutely till death." 

I shuddered as he spoke : I felt his influence in 
my marrow — his hold on my limbs. 

" Seek one elsewhere than in me, St John : seek one 
fitted to you." 

" One fitted to my purpose, you mean — fitted to my 
vocation. Again I tell you it is not the insignificant 
private individual — the mere man, with the man's selfish 
senses — I wish to mate : it is the missionary." 

" And I will give the missionary my energies — it is 
all he wants — but not myself: that would be only add- 
ing the husk and shell to the kernel. For them he has 
no use : I retain them." 

" You cannot — you ought not. Do you think God 
will be satisfied with half an oblation ? Will he accept 
a mutilated sacrifice ? It is the cause of God 1 advo- 
cate : it is under his standard I enlist you. I cannot 
accept on His behalf a divided allegiance : it must be 
entire." 

" Oh ! I will give my heart to God," I said, " Tou 
do not want it." 

I will not swear, reader, that there was not something 
of repressed sarcasm both in the tone in which I uttered 
this sentence, and in the feeling that accompanied it. 
I had silently feared St John till now, because I had 
not understood him. He had held me in awe, because he 
had held me in doubt. How much of him was saint, how 



JANE EYRE. 227 

much mortal, I could not heretofore tell : but revela- 
tions were being made in this conference : the analysis 
of his nature was proceeding before my eyes. I saw his 
fallibilities : I comprehended them. I understood that, 
sitting there where I did, on the bank of heath, and 
with that handsome form before me I sat at the feet of 
a man, erring as I. The veil fell from his hardness and 
despotism. Having felt in him the presence of these 
qualities, I felt his imperfection, and took courage. I 
was with an equal — one with whom 1 might argue — 
one whom, if I saw good, I might resist. 

He w^as silent after I had uttered the last sentence, 
and I presently risked an upward glance at his counten- 
ance. His eye, bent on me, expressed at once stern 
surprise and keen inquiry. " Is she sarcastic, and sar- 
castic to me ! " it seemed to say. 

" What does this signify ? " 

" Do not let us forget that this is a solemn matter," 
he said ere long ; " one of which we may neither think 
nor talk lightly without sin. I trust, Jane, you are in 
earnest when you say you will give your heart to God : 
it is all I want. Once wrench your heart from man, 
and fix it on your Maker, the advancement of that 
Maker's spiritual kingdom on earth will be your chief 
delight and endeavour ; you will be ready to do at 
once whatever furthers that end. You will see what 
impetus would be given to your efforts and mine by our 
physical and mental union in marriage : the only union 
that gives a character of permanent conformity to the 
destinies and designs of human beings : and, passing 
over all minor caprices — all trivial difficulties and 
delicacies of feeling — all scruple about the degree, 
kind, strength, or tenderness of mere personal inclina- 
tion — you will hasten to enter into that union at 
once." 

"Shall I?" I said, briefly; and I looked at his 



228 JANE EYRE. 

features, beautiful in their harmony, but strangely for- 
midable in their still severity; at his brow, commanding 
but not open ; at his eyes, bright and deep, and search- 
ing, but never soft ; at his tall, imposing figure ; and 
fancied myself in idea his nvife. Oh ! it would never 
do ! As his curate, his comrade, all would be right : I 
would cross oceans with him in that capacity ; toil 
under eastern suns, in Asian deserts with him in that 
office ; admire and emulate his courage, and devotion, 
and vigour ; accommodate quietly to his masterhood ; 
smile undisturbed at his ineradicable ambition ; dis- 
criminate the Christian from the man : profoundly 
esteem the one, and freely forgive the other. I should 
suffer often, no doubt, attached to him only in this 
capacity : my body would be under rather a stringent 
yoke, but my heart and mind would be free. I should 
still have my unblighted self to turn to : my natural 
unenslavcd feelings with which to communicate in 
moments of loneliness. There would be recesses in my 
mind which would be only mine, to which he never 
came ; and sentiments growing there fresh and sheltered, 
which his austerity could never blight, nor his measured 
warrior-march trample down ; but as his wife — at his 
side always, and always restrained, and always checked 
— forced to keep the fiie of my nature continually low, 
to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, 
though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vital 
— this would be unendurable. 

" St John ! " I exclaimed, when I had got so far in 
my meditation. 

" Well \ " he answered, icily. 

" I repeat : I freely consent to go with you as your 
fellow-missionary ; but not as your wife ; I cannot 
marry you and become part of you." 

"A part of me you must become," he answered 
steadily ; " otherwise the whole bargain is void. How 



JANE EYRE. 229 

can I, a man not yet thirty, take out with me to India 
a girl of nineteen, unless she be married to me ? How 
can we be for ever together — sometimes in solitudes, 
sometimes amidst savage tribes — and unwed ? " 

" Very well," I said shortly ; " under the circum- 
stances, quite as well as if I were either your real sister, 
or a man and a clergyman like yourself." 

" It is known that you are not my sister ; I cannot 
introduce you as such : to attempt it would be to fasten 
injurious suspicions on us both. And for the rest, 
though you have a man's vigorous brain, you have 
a woman's heart, and — it would not do." 

" It would do," I affirmed with some disdain, 
" perfectly well. I have a woman's heart ; but not 
where you are concerned ; for you I have only a com- 
rade's constancy ; a fellow-soldier's frankness, iidelity, 
fraternity, if you like ; a neophyte's respect and sub- 
mission to his hierophant : nothing more — don't 
fear." 

" It is what I want," he said, speaking to himself; 
" it is just what I want. And there are obstacles in 
the way : they must be hewn down. Jane, you would 
not repent marrying me ; be certain of that ; we must 
be married, I repeat it : there is no other way ; and 
undoubtedly enough of love would follow upon marriage 
to render the union right even in your eyes." 

" I scorn your idea of love," I could not help saying ; 
as I rose up and stood before him, leaning my back 
against the rock. " I scorn the counterfeit sentiment 
you offer : yes, St John, and I scorn you when you 
offer it." 

He looked at me fixedly : compressing his well-cut 
li]:s while he did so. Whether he was incensed or sur- 
prised, or what, it was not easy to tell : he could com- 
mand his countenance thoroughly. 

" I scarcely expected to hear that expression from 



230 JANE EYRE. 

you," he said : " I think I have done and uttered 
nothing to deserve scorn." 

I was touched by his gentle tone, and overawed by 
his high, calm mien. 

" Forgive me the words, St John : but it is your own 
fault that I have been roused to speak so unguardedly. 
You have introduced a topic on which our natures are 
at variance — a topic we should never discuss : the very 
name of love is an apple of discord between us — if the 
reality were required what should we do ? How should 
we feel ? My dear cousin, abandon your scheme of 
marriage — forget it." 

" No," said he ; " it is a long-cherished scheme, and 
the only one which can secure my great end : but I 
shall urge you no further at present. To-morrow, I 
leave home for Cambridge : I have many friends there 
to whom I should wish to say farewell. I shall be 
absent a fortnight — take that space of time to consider 
my offer : and do not forget that if you reject it, it is 
not me you deny, but God. Through my means. He 
opens to you a noble career ; as my wife only can you 
enter upon it. Refuse to be my wife, and you limit 
yourself for 'ever to a track of selfish ease and barren 
obscurity. Tremble lest in that case you should be 
numbered with those who have denied the faith, and 
are worse than infidels ! " 

He had done. Turning from me, he once more — 

" Looked to river, looked to hill : " 

But this time his feelings were all pent in his heart : I 
was not worthy to hear them uttered. As I walked 
by his side homeward, I read well in his iron silence 
all he felt towards me : the disappointment of an austere 
and despotic nature, which has met resistance where it 
expected submission — the disapprobation of a cool, in- 
flexible judgment, which has detected in another feel- 



JANE EYRE. 23 1 

ings and views in which it has no power to sympathise : 
in short, as a man, he would have wished to coerce me 
into obedience : it was only as a sincere Christian he 
bore so patiently with my perversity, and allowed so 
long a space for reflection and repentance. 

That night, after he had kissed his sisters, he thought 
proper to forget even to shake hands with me ; but left 
the room in silence. I — who, though I had no love, 
had much friendship for him — was hurt by the marked 
omission : so much hurt that tears started to my eyes. 

" I see you and St John have been quarrelling, Jane," 
said Diana, " during your walk on the moor. But go 
after him ; he is now lingering in the passage, expecting 
you — he will make it up." 

I have not much pride under such circumstances : 1 
would always rather be happy than dignified ; and I ran 
after him — he stood at the foot of the stairs. 

" Good-night, St John," said I. 

*' Good-night, Jane," he replied calmly. 

" Then shake hands," I added. 

What a cold, loose touch, he impressed on my 
fingers ! He was deeply displeased by what had oc- 
curied that day : cordiality would not warm, nor tears 
move him. No happy reconciliation was to be had 
with him — no cheering smile or generous word : but 
still the Christian was patient and placid ; and when I 
asked him if he forgave me, he answered that he was not 
in the habit of cherishing the remembrance of vexation ; 
that he had nothing to foi-give ; not having been 
offended. 

And with that answer he left me. I would much 
rather he had knocked me down. 



232 JANE EYRE. 



Chapter xv%^* 

HE did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as 
he had said he would. He deferred his de- 
parture a whole week ; and during that time he 
made me feel what severe punishment, a good, yet stern, 
a conscientious, yet implacable man can inflict on one 
who has offended him. Without one overt act of hos- 
tility, one upbraiding word, he contrived to impress me 
momently with the conviction that I was put beyond 
the pale of his favour. 

Not that St John harboured a spirit of unchristian vin- 
dictiveness — not that he would have injured a hair of 
my head, if it had been fully in his power to do so. 
Both by nature and principle, he was superior to the 
mean gratification of vengeance : he had forgiven me 
for saying I scorned him and his love, but he had not 
forgotten the words ; and as long as he and I lived he 
never would forget them. I saw by his look, when he 
turned to me, that they were always written on the air 
between me and him ; whenever I spoke, they sounded 
in my voice to his ear ; and their echo toned every 
answer he gave me. 

He did not abstain from conversing with me : he 
even called me as usual each morning to join him at 
his desk ; and I fear the corrupt man within him had 
a pleasure unimparted to, and unshared by, the pure 
Christian, in evincing with what skill he could, while 
acting and speaking apparently just as usual, extract 
from every deed and every phrase the spirit of interest 
and approval which had formerly communicated a 
certain austere charm to his language and manner. To 
me, he was in reality become no longer flesh, but 
marble ; his eye was a cold, bright, blue gem ; his 
tongue, a speaking instrument — nothing more. 



JANE EYRE. 233 

All this was torture to me — refined, lingering tor- 
ture. It kept up a slow fire of indignation, and a 
trembling trouble of grief, which harassed and crushed 
me altogether. I felt how — if I were his wife, this 
good man, pure as the deep sunless source, could soon 
kill me : without drawing from my veins a single drop 
of blood, or receiving on his own crystal conscience the 
faintest stain of crime. Especially I felt this, when 1 
made any attempt to propitiate him. No ruth met my 
ruth. He experienced no suffering from estrangement 
— no yearning after reconciliation ; and though, more 
than once, my fast falling tears blistered the page over 
which we both bent, they produced no more effect on 
him than if his heart had been really a matter of stone 
or metal. To his sisters, meantime, he was somewhat 
kinder than usual : as if afraid that mere coldness would 
not sufficiently convince me how completely I was 
banished and banned, he added the force of contrast : 
and this I am sure he did, not by malice, but on 
principle. 

The night before he left home, happening to sec 
him walking in the garden about sunset, and remember- 
ing, as I looked at him, that this man, alienated as he 
now was, had once saved my life, and that we were 
near relations, I was moved to make a last attempt to 
regain his friendship. I went out and approached him, 
as he stood leaning over the little gate : I spoke to the 
point at once. 

" St John, I am unhappy, because you are still angry 
with me. Let us be friends." 

" I hope we are friends," was the unmoved reply ; 
while he still watched the rising of the moon, which he 
had been contemplating as I approached. 

" No, St John, we are not friends as we were. You 
know that." 

" Are we not ? That is wrong. For my part, I 
wish you no ill and all good." 



234 JANE EYRE. 

" I believe you, St John ; for I am sure you are in- 
capable of wishing any one ill : but, as I am your kins- 
woman, I should desire somewhat more of affection than 
that sort of general philanthropy you extend to mere 
strangers." 

" Of course," he said. " Your wish is reasonable ; 
and I am far from regarding you as a stranger." 

This, spoken in a cool, tranquil tone, was mortify- 
ing and baffling enough. Had I attended to the 
suggestions of pride and ire, I should immediately have 
left him : but something worked within me more 
strongly than those feelings could. I deeply venerated 
my cousin's talent and principle. His friendship was 
of value to me : to lose it tried me severely. I would 
not so soon relinquish the attempt to reconquer it. 

" Must we part in this way, St John ? And when 
you go to India, will you leave me so, without a kinder 
word than you have yet spoken ? " 

He now turned quite from the moon, and faced me. 

" When I go to India, Jane, will I leave you ? 
What ! do you not go to India ? " 

" You said I could not, unless I married you." 

" And you will not marry me ? You adhere to that 
resolution ? " 

Reader, do you know, as I do, what terror those 
cold people can put into the ice of their questions ? 
How much of the fall of the avalanche is in their 
anger ? of the breaking up of the frozen sea in their 
displeasure ? 

" No, St John, I will not marry you. I adhere to 
my resolution." 

The avalanche had shaken and slid a little foiward ; 
but it did not yet crash down. 

" Once more, why this refusal ? " he asked. 

" Formerly," I answered, " because you did not love 
me ; now, I reply, because you almost hate me. if I 



JANE EYRE. 235 

were to marry you, you would kill me. You are killing 
me now." 

His lips and cheeks turned white — quite white. 

" / should kill you — / am killing you ? Your words 
are such as ought not to be used : violent, unfeminine, 
and untrue. They betray an unfortunate state of mind: 
they merit severe reproof: they would seem inexcus- 
able ; but that it is the duty of man to forgive his fellow, 
even until seventy-and-seven times." 

I had finished the business now. While earnestly 
wishing to erase from his mind the trace of my former 
offence, I had stamped on that tenacious surface, 
another and far deeper impression : I had burnt it 
in. 

" Now, you will indeed hate me," I said. " It is 
uf.eless to attempt to conciliate you : I see I have made 
an eternal enemy of you." 

A fresh wrong did these words intlict : the worse, 
because they touched on the truth. That bloodless lip 
quivered to a temporary spasm. I knew the steelly 
ire I had whetted. 1 was heart-wrung. 

"You utterly misinteq^rct my words," I said, at once 
seizing his hand : " I have no intention to grieve or pain 
you — indeed, I have not." 

Most bitterly he smiled — most decidedly he withdrew 
his hand from mine. "And now you recall your ])ro- 
mise, and will not go to India at all, I presume ? " said 
he, after a considerable pause. 

" Yes I will, as your assistant," I answered. 

A very long silence succeeded. What struggle there 
was in him between Nature and Grace in tliis interval, 
i cannot tell : only singular gleams scintillated in his 
eyes, and strange shadows passed over his face. He 
spoke at last. 

" I before proved to you the absurdity of a single 
woman of your age proposing to accompany abroad a 



236 JANE EYRE. 

single man of mine. I proved it to you in such terms 
as, I should have thought, would have prevented your 
ever again alluding to the plan. That jou have done 
so, I regret — ^for your sake." 

I interrupted nim. Anything like a tangible reproach 
gave me courage at once. *' Keep to common sense, St 
John : you are verging on nonsense. You pretend to 
be shocked by what I have said. You are not really 
shocked ; for, with your superior mind, you cannot be 
either so dull or so conceited as to misunderstand my 
meaning. I say again, I will be your curate, if you like, 
but never your wife." 

Again he turned lividly pale ; but, as before, con- 
trolled his passion perfectly. He answered emphatically, 
but calmly: — 

" A female curate, who is not my wife, would never 
suit me. With me, then, it seems, you cannot go : but 
if you are sincere in your offer, I will, while in town, 
speak to a married missionary, whose wife needs a 
coadjutor. Your own fortune will make you indepen- 
dent of the Society's aid ; and thus you may still be 
spared the dishonour of breaking your promise, and de- 
serting the band you engaged to join." 

Now I never had, as the reader knows, either given 
any formal promise, or entered into any engagement ; 
and this language was all mucii too hard, and much too 
despotic for the occasion. I replied : — 

" There is no dishonour ; no breach of promise ; no 
desertion in the case. I am not under the slightest 
obligation to go to India : especially with strangers. 
With you I would have ventured much ; because I 
admire, confide in, and, as a sister, I love you ; but I 
am convinced that, go when and with whom I would, I 
should not live long in that climate." 

" Ah ! you are afraid of yourself," he said, curling 
his lip. 



JANE EYRE. 237 

" I am. God did not give me my life to throw 
away ; and to do as you wish me would, I begin to 
think, be almost equivalent to committing suicide. 
Moreover, before I definitely resolve on quitting 
England, I will know for certain, whether I cannot 
be of greater use by remaining in it than by leaving 
it." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" It would be fruitless to attempt to explain : but 
there is a point on which I have long endured painful 
doubt ; and I can go nowhere till by some means that 
doubt is removed." 

" I know where your heart turns, and to what it 
clings. The interest you cherish is lawless and uncon- 
secrated. Long since you ought to have crushed it : 
now you should blush to allude to it. You think of 
Mr Rochester ? " 

It was true. I confessed it by silence. 

"Are you going to seek Mr Rochester?" 

" I must find out what has become of him." 

" It remains for me, then," he said, " to remem.ber you 
in my prayers ; and to entreat God for you, in all 
earnestness, that you may not indeed become a castaway. 
I had thought I recognised in you one of the chosen. 
But God sees not as man sees : His will be done." 

He opened the gate, passed through it, and strayed 
away down the glen. He was soon out of sight. 

On re-entering the parlour, I found Diana standing 
at the window, looking very thoughtful. Diana was a 
great deal taller than I : she put her hand on my 
shoulder, and, stooping, examined my face. 

" Jane," she said, " you are always agitated and 
pale now. I am sure there is something the matter. 
Tell me what business St John and you have on hands. 
I have watched you tliis half hour from the window : 
you must forgive my being such a spy, but for a long 



238 JANE EYRE. 

time I have fancied I hardly know what. St John is 
a strange being " 

She i)aused— I did not speak : soon she resumed : — 

" That brother of mine cherishes peculiar views of 
some sort respecting you, I am sure : he has long dis- 
tinguished you by a notice and interest he never showed 
to anyone else — to what end ? I wish he loved you — 
does he, Jane ? " 

I put her cool hand to my hot forehead : " No, Die, 
not one whit." 

" Then why does he follow you so with his eyes — 
and get you so frequently alone with him, and keep you 
so continually at his side ? Mary and I had both con- 
cluded he wished you to marry him." 

" He does — he has asked me to be his wife." 

Diana clapped her hands. " That is just what we 
hoped and thought ! And you will marry him, Jane, 
won't you ? And then he will stay in England." 

" Far from that, Diana ; his sole idea in proposing 
to me is to procure a fitting fellow-labourer in his 
Indian toils." 

" What ! He wishes you to go to India ? " 

" Yes." 

" Madness ! " she exclaimed. " You would not 
live three months there, I am certain. You never 
shall go : you have not consented — have you, Jane ? " 

" I have refused to marry him " 

" And have consequently displeased him ? " she 
suggested. 

" Deeply : he will never forgive me, I fear : yet I 
offered to accompany him as his sister." 

" It was frantic folly to do so, Jane. Think of the 
task you undertook — one of incessant fatigue : where 
fatigue kills even the strong ; and you are weak. St 
John — you know him — would urge you to impossibili- 
ties : with him there would be no permission to rest 



JANE EYRE. 239 

during the hot hours ; and unfortunately, I have noticed, 
whatever he exacts, you force yourself to perform. I 
am astonished you found courage to refuse his hand. 
You do not love him then, Jane ? " 

" Not as a husband." 

" Yet he is a handsome fellow." 

" And I am so plain you see, Die. We should 
never suit." 

" Plain ! You ? Not at all. You are much too 
pretty, as well as too good, to be grilled alive in Cal- 
cutta." And again she earnestly conjured me to give 
up all thoughts of going out with her brother. 

" I must, indeed," I said : " for when just now I 
repeated the offer of serving him for a deacon, he ex- 
pressed himself shocked at my want of decency. He 
seemed to think I had committed an impropriety in 
proposing to accompany him unmarried : as if I had 
not from the first hoped to find in him a brother ; and 
habitually regarded him as such." 

" What makes you say he does not love you, Jane ? " 

" You should hear himself on the subject. He has 
again and again explained that it is not himself, but his 
office he wishes to mate. He has told me I am formed 
for labour — not for love : which is true, no doubt. 
But, in my opinion, if I am not formed for love, it 
follows that I am not formed for marriage. Would it 
not be strange, Die, to be chained for life to a man who 
regarded one but as a useful tool ? " 

" Insupportable — unnatural — out of the question ! " 

"And then," I continued, "though I have only 
sisterly affection for him now, yet, if forced to be his 
wife, I can imagine the possibility of conceiving an in- 
evitable, strange, torturing kind of love for him : because 
he is so talented ; and there is often a certain heroic 
grandeur in his look, manner, and conversation. In that 
case, my lot would become unspeakably wretched. He 



240 JANE EYRE. 

would not want me to love him ; and if I showed the 
feeling, he would make me sensible that it was a super- 
fluity unrequired by him, unbecoming in me. I know 
he would." 

" And yet, St John is a good man," said Diana. 

" He is a good and a great man : but he forgets, 
pitilessly, the feelings and claims of little people, in 
pursuing his own large views. It is better, therefore, 
for the insignificant to keep out ot his way ; lest, in his 
progress, he should trample them down. Here he 
comes ! 1 will leave you, Diana." And I hastened 
upstairs, as I saw him entering the garden. 

But I was forced to meet him again at supper. 
During that meal he appeared just as composed as usual. 
I had thought he would hardly speak to me, and I was 
certain he had given up the pursuit of his matrimonial 
scheme : the sequel showed I was mistaken on both 
points. He addressed me precisely in his ordinary 
manner ; or what had, of late, been his ordinary 
manner ; one scrupulously polite. No doubt he had 
invoked the help of the Holy Spirit to subdue the 
anger I had roused in him, and now believed he had 
forgiven me once more. 

For the evening reading before prayers, he selected 
the twenty-first chapter of Revelation. It was at all 
times pleasant to listen, while from his lips fell the 
words of the Bible : never did his fine voice sound at 
once so sweet and full — never did his manner become 
so impressive in its noble simplicity, as when he delivered 
the oracles of God : and to-night that voice took a more 
solemn tone — that manner a more thrilling meaning — 
as he sat in the midst of his household circle (the May 
moon shining in through the uncurtained window, and 
rendering almost unnecessary the light of the candle on 
the table) : as he sat there, bending over the great old 
Bible, and described from its page the vision of the new 



JANE EYRE. 24 1 

heaven and the new earth — told how God would come 
to dwell with men, how he would wipe away all tears 
from their eyes, and promised that there should be no 
more death, neither sorrow not crying, nor any more 
pain, because the former things were passed away. 

The succeeding words thrilled me strangely as he 
spoke them : especially as I felt, by the slight, inde- 
scribable alteration in sound, that in uttering them, his 
eye had turned on me. 

" He that overcometh shall inherit all things ; and I 
will be his God, and he shall be my son. But," was 
slowly, distinctly read, " the fearful, the unbelieving, 
&c., shall have their part in the lake which burneth 
with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." 

Henceforward, I knew what fate St John feared for 
me. 

A calm, subdued triumph, blent with a longing ear- 
nestness, marked his enunciation of the last glorious 
verses of that chapter. The reader believed his name 
was already written in the Lamb's book of life, and he 
yearned after the hour which should admit him to the 
city to which the kings of the earth bring their glory 
and honour ; which has no need of sun or moon to shine 
in it, because the glory of God lightens it, and the Lamb 
is the ligiit thereof. 

In the prayer following the cliaptcr, all his energy 
gathered — all his stern zeal woke : he was in deep 
earnest, wrestling with God, and resolved on a conquest. 
He supplicated strengtii for the weak-hearted ; guid- 
ance for wanderers from the fold : a return, even at the 
eleventh hour, for those whom the temptations of the 
world and the flesh were luring from the narrow path. 
He asked, he urged, he claimed the boon of a brand 
snatched from the burning. Earnestness is ever deeply 
solemn : first, as I listened to that prayer, I wondered 
at his ; then, when it continued and rose, 1 was touciicd 

II. Q 



242 JANE EYRE. 

by it, and at last awed. He felt the greatness and 
goodness of his purpose so sincerely : others who heard 
him plead for it, could not but feel it too. 

The prayer over, we took leave of him : he was to 
go at a very early hour in the morning. Diana and 
Maiy having kissed him, left the room — in compliance, 
I think, with a whispered hint from him : I tendered 
my hand, and wished him a pleasant journey. 

" Thank you, Jane. As I said, I shall return from 
Cambridge in a fortnight : that space, then, is yet left 
you for reflection. If I listened to human pride, I 
should say no more to you of marriage with me ; but I 
listen to my duty, and keep steadily in view my first 
aim — to do all things to the glory of God. My Master 
was long-suffering ; so will I be. I cannot give you up 
to perdition as a vessel of wrath : repent — resolve ; while 
there is yet time. Remember, we are bid to work 
while it is day — warned that ' the night cometh when 
no man shall work.' Remember the fate of Dives, who 
had his good things in this life. God give you strength 
to choose that better part which shall not be taken from 
you ! " 

He laid his hand on my head as he uttered the last 
words. He had spoken earnestly, mildly : his look was 
not, indeed, that of a lover beholding his mistress ; but 
it was that of a pastor recalling his wandering sheep — or 
better, of a guardian angel watching the soul for which he 
is responsible. All men of talent, whether they be men 
of feeling or not ; whether they be zealots, or aspirants, 
or despots — provided only they be sincere — have their 
sublime moments : when they subdue and rule. I felt 
veneration for St John — veneration so strong that its 
impetus thrust me at once to the point I had so long 
shunned. I was tempted to cease struggling with him 
— to rush down the torrent of his will into the gulf of 
his existence, and there lose my own. I was almost as 



JANE EYRE. 243 

hard beset by him now as I had been once before, in a 
different way, by another. I was a fool both times. 
To have yielded then would have been an error of 
principle ; to have yielded now would have been an 
error of judgment. So I think at this hour, when I 
look back to the crisis through the quiet medium of 
time : I was unconscious of folly at the instant. 

I stood motionless under my hierophant's touch. My 
refusals were forgotten — my fears overcome — my wrest- 
lings paralysed. The Impossible — i.e. my marriage 
with St John — was fast becoming the Possible. All 
was changing utterly, with a sudden sweep. Religion 
called — Angels beckoned — God commanded — life 
rolled together like a scroll — death's gates opening, 
showed eternity beyond : it seemed, that for safety and 
bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in a second. 
The dim room was full of visions. 

" Could you decide now ? " asked the missionary. 
The inquiry was put in gentle tones : he drew me to 
him as gently. Oh, that gentleness ! how far more 
potent is it than force ! I could resist St John's wrath : 
I grew pliant as a reed under his kindness. Yet I knew 
all the time, if I yielded now, I should not the less be 
made to repent, some day, of my former rebellion. His 
nature was not changed by one hour of solemn prayer : 
it was only elevated. 

" I could decide if I were but certain," I answered : 
" were I but convinced that it is God's will I should 
marry you, I could vow to marry you here and now — 
come afterwards what would ! " 

" My prayers are heard ! " ejaculated St John. He 
pressed his hand firmer on my head, as if he claimed 
me : he surrounded me with his arm, almost as if he 
loved me ( I say a/most — I knew the difference — for I 
had felt what it was to be loved ; but, like him, I had 
now put love out of the question, and thought only of 



244 JANE EYRE. 

duty) : I contended with my inward dimness of vision, 
before which clouds yet rolled. I sincerely, deeply, 
fervently longed to do what was right ; and only that. 
" Show me, show me the path ! " I entreated of 
Heaven. I was excited more than I had ever been ; 
and whether what followed was the effect of excitement, 
the reader shall judge. 

All the house was still ; for I believe all, except St 
John and myself, were now retired to rest. The one 
candle was dying out : the room was full of moonlight. 
My heart beat fast and thick : I heard its throb. 
Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible feeling that 
thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and 
extremities. The feeling was not like an electric 
shock ; but it was quite as sharp, as strange, as startling : 
it acted on my senses as if their utmost activity hitherto 
had been but torpor ; from which they were now 
summoned, and forced to wake. They rose expectant ; 
eye and ear waited, while the flesh quivered on my bones. 

"What have you heard? What do you see?" 
asked St John. I saw nothing : but I heard a voice 
somewhere cry — 

" Jane ! Jane ! Jane ! " nothing more. 

" Oh God ! what is it ? " I gasped. 

I might have said, "Where is it?" for it did not 
seem in the room — nor in the house — nor in the garden : 
it did not come out of the air — nor from under the 
earth — nor from overhead. I had heard it — where, or 
whence, for ever impossible to know ! And it was the 
voice of a human being — a known, loved, well-remem- 
bered voice — that of Edward Fairfax Rochester ; and 
it spoke in pain and woe wildly, eerily, urgently. 

" I am coming ! " I cried. " Wait for me ! Oh, 
I will come ! " I flew to the door, and looked into 
the passage : it was dark. I ran out into the garden : 
it was void. 



JANE EYRE. 245 

" Where are you ? " I exclaimed. 

The hills beyond Marsh Glen sent the answer faintly 
back — " Where are you ? " I listened. The wind 
sighed low in the firs : all was moorland loneliness and 
midnight hush. 

" Down superstition ! " I commented, as that spectre 
rose up black by the black yew at the gate. " This is 
not thy deception, nor thy witchcraft : it is the work of 
nature. Siie was roused, and did — no miracle — but her 
best." 

I broke from St John ; who had followed, and would 
have detained me. It was my time to assume ascend- 
ancy. My powers were in play, and in force. I told 
him to forbear question or remark ; I desired him to 
leave me : I must, and would be alone. He obeyed at 
once. Where there is energy to command well enough, 
obedience never fails. I mounted to my chamber ; 
locked myself in ; fell on my knees ; and prayed in my 
way — a different way to St John's, but effective in its 
own fashion. I seemed to penetrate very near a 
Mighty Spirit ; and my soul rushed out in giatitude at 
His feet. I rose from the thanksgiving — took a 
resolve — and lay down, unscared, enlightened — eager 
but for the daylight. 



Chapter %%%^i* 

THE daylight came. I rose at dawn. I busied 
myself for an hour or two with arranging my 
things in my chamber, drawers and waidrobe, 
in the order wherein I should wish to leave them during 
a brief absence. Meantime, I heard St John quit iiis 
room. He stopped at my door : I feared he would 
knock — no, but a slip of jx'iper was passed under the 
door. I took it up. It bore these words — 



246 JANE EYRE. 

" You left me too suddenly last night. Had you 
stayed but a little longer, you would have laid your 
hand on the Christian's cross and the angel's crown. 
I shall expect your clear decision when I return 
this day fortnight. Meantime, watch and pray that you 
enter not into temptation : the spirit, I trust, is willing, 
but the flesh, I see, is weak. I shall pray for you 
hourly, — Yours, St John." 

" My spirit," I answered, mentally, " is willing to do 
what is right ; and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough 
to accomplish the will of Heaven, when once that will 
is distinctly known to me. At any rate, it shall be 
strong enough to search — inquire — to grope an outlet 
from this crowd of doubt, and find the open day of 
certainty." 

It was the first of June ; yet the morning was over- 
cast and chilly: rain beat fasten my casement. I heard 
the front-door open, and St John pass out. Looking 
through the window, I saw him traverse the garden. 
He took the way over the misty moors in the direction 
of Whitcross — there he would meet the coach. 

" In a few more hours 1 shall succeed you in that 
track, cousin," thought I : "I too have a coach to 
meet at Whitcross. I too have some to see and ask 
after in England, before I depart for ever." 

It wanted yet two hours of breakfast-time. I filled 
the interval in walking softly about my room, and 
pondering the visitation which had given my plans their 
present bent. I recalled that inward sensation I ha(/ 
experienced : for I could recall it, with all its un- 
speakable strangeness. I recalled the voice I had 
heard ; again I questioned whence it came, as vainly as 
before : it seemed in me — not in the external world. I 
asked, was it a mere nervous impression — a delusion ? 
I could not conceive or believe : it was more like an 
inspiration. The wondrous shock of feeling had come 



JANE EYRE. 247 

like the earthquake which shook the foundations of Paul 
and Silas's prison ; it had opened the doors of the soul's 
cell, and loosed its bands — it had wakened it out of its 
sleep, whence it sprang trembling, listening, aghast ; 
then vibrated thrice a cry on my startled ear, and in my 
quaking heart, and through my spirit ; which neither 
feared nor shook, but exulted as if in joy over the 
success of one effort it had been privileged to make, 
independent of the cumbrous body. 

" Ere many days," I said, as I terminated my 
musings, " I will know something of him whose voice 
seemed last night to summon me. Letters have proved 
of no avail — personal inquiry shall replace them." 

At breakfast I announced to Diana and Mary that 1 
was going a journey, and should be absent at least four 
days. 

" Alone, Jane ? " they asked. 

" Yes ; it was to see, or hear news of, a friend about 
whom I had for some time been uneasy." 

They might have said, as I have no doubt they 
thought, that they had believed me to be without any 
friends save them : for, indeed, I had often said so ; but 
with their true natural delicacy, they abstained from 
comment : except that Diana asked me if I was sure I 
was well enough to travel. I looked very pale, she 
observed. 1 replied, that nothing ailed me save 
anxiety of mind, which I hoped soon to alleviate. 

It was easy to make my further arrangements ; 
for T was troubled with no inquiries — no surmises. 
Having once explained to them that I could not now be 
explicit about my plans, they kindly and wisely acquiesced 
in the silence with which I pursued tliem ; according to 
me the privilege of free action I should, under similar 
circumstances, have accorded them. 

I left Moor House at three o'clock p.m., and soon 
after four, I stood at the foot of the sign-post of Whit- 



248 JANE EYRE. 

cross, waiting the arrival of the coach which was to 
take me to distant Thornfield. Amidst the silence of 
those solitary roads and desert hills, I heard it approach 
from a great distance. It was the same vehicle whence, 
a year ago, I had alighted one summer evening on this 
very spot — how desolate, and hopeless^ and objectless ! 
It stopped as I beckoned. I entered — not now obliged 
to part with my whole fortune as the price of its accom- 
modation. Once more on the road to Thornfield, I 
felt like the messenger-pigeon flying home. 

It was a journey of six-and-thirty hours. I had set 
out from Whitcross on a Tuesday afternoon, and early 
on the succeeding Thursday morning the coach stopped 
to water the horses at a wayside inn, situated in the 
midst of scenery whose green hedges and large fields, 
and low pastoral hills (how mild of feature and ver- 
dant of hue compared with the stern north-midland 
moors of Morton ! ) met my eye like the lineaments of 
a once familiar face. Yes, I knew the character ot 
this landscape : I was sure we were near my bourne. 

" How far is Thornfield Hall from here ? " I asked 
of the ostler. 

"Just two miles, ma'am, across the fields." 

" My journey is closed," I thought to myself. I 
got out of the coach, gave a box I had into the ostler's 
charge, to be kept till I called for it ; paid my fare ; 
satisfied the coachman, and was going : the brightening 
day gleamed on the sign of the inn, and I read in gilt 
letters, " The Rochester Arms." My heart leapt up : 
I was already on my master's very lands. It fell again : 
the thought struck it : — 

" Your master himself may be beyond the British 
Channel, for aught you know : and then, if he is at 
Thornfield Hall, towards which you hasten, who besides 
him is there ? His lunatic wife : and you have nothing 
to do with him : you dare not speak to him or seek his 



JANE EYRE, 249 

presence. You have lost your labour — you had better 
go no farther," urged the monitor. " Ask information 
of the people at the inn ; they can give you all you 
seek : they can solve your doubts at once. Go up 
to that man, and inquire if Mr Rochester be at 
home." 

The suggestion was sensible ; and yet I could not 
force myself to act on it. I so dreaded a reply that 
would crush me with despair. To prolong doubt was to 
prolong hope. I might yet once more see the Hall under 
the ray of her star. There was the stile before me — 
the very fields through which I had hurried, blind, deaf, 
distracted, with a revengeful fury tracking and scourging 
me, on the morning I fled from Tliornfield : ere I well 
knew what course I had resolved to take, I was in the 
midst of them. How fast I walked . How I ran 
sometimes ! How I looked forward to catch the first 
view of the well-known woods ! With what feelings 
I welcomed single trees I knew, and familiar glimpses of 
meadow and hill between them ! 

At last the woods rose ; the rookery clustered dark ; 
a loud cawing broke the morning stillness. Strange 
delight inspired me : on I hastened. Another field 
crossed — a lane threaded — and there were the court- 
yard walls — the back offices: the house itself, the 
rookery still hid. " My first view of it shall be in 
front," I determined, " where its bold battlements will 
strike the eye nobly at once, and where I can single 
out my master's very window : perhaps he will be stand- 
ing at it — he rises early : perha])s he is now walking in 
the orchard, or on the pavement in front. Could I but 
see him! — but a moment! Surely, in that case, I 
should not be so mad as to run to him ? I cannot tell 
— I am not certain. And if I did — what then ? God 
bless him ! What then ? Who would be hurt by my 
once more tasting the life his glance can give me — 



250 JANE EYRE. 

I rave : perhaps at this moment he is watching the 
sun rise over the Pyrenees, or on the tideless sea of the 
south." 

I had coasted along the lower wall of the orchard — 
turned its angle : there was a gate just there, opening 
into the meadow, between two stone pillars, crowned by 
stone balls. From behind one pillar, I could peep 
round quietly at the full front of the mansion. I ad- 
vanced my head with precaution, desirous to ascertain it 
any bedroom window-blinds were yet diawn up : battle- 
ments, windows, long front — all from this sheltered 
station were at my command. 

The crows sailing overhead perhaps watched me 
while I took this survey. I wonder what they thought : 
they must have considered I was very careful and timid 
at first, and that gradually I grew very bold and reck- 
less. A peep, and then a long stare ; and then a 
departure from my niche and a straying out into the 
meadow ; and a sudden stop full in front of the great 
mansion, and a protracted, hardy gaze towards it. 
" What affectation of diffidence was this at first ! " 
they might have demanded, " What stupid regardlessness 
now ? " 

Hear an illustration, reader. 

A lover finds his mistress asleep on a mossy bank ; he 
wishes to catch a glimpse of her fair face without wak- 
ing her. He steals softly over the grass, careful to 
make no sound ; he pauses — fancying she has stirred . 
he withdraws ; not for worlds would he be seen. All 
is still : he again advances : he bends above her ; a 
light veil rests on her features : he lifts it, bends lower ; 
now his eyes anticipate the vision of beauty — warm, and 
blooming, and lovely, in rest. How hurried was their 
first glance ! But how they fix ! How he starts ! 
How he suddenly and vehemently clasps in both arms 
the form he dared not, a moment since, touch with his 




t y yt-a-//' f/ o u/^-^/'y^i^'/'-/ 



xz-ry^y/iy . 



JANE EYRE. 25 1 

finger ! How he calls aloud a name, and drops his 
burden, and gazes on it wildly ! He thus grasps and 
cries, and gazes, because he no longer fears to waken by 
any sound he can utter — by any movement he can 
make. He thought his love slept sweetly : he finds 
she is stone-dead. 

I looked with timorous joy towards a stately house : 
I saw a blackened ruin. 

No need to cower behind a gate-post, indeed! — to 
peep up at chamber lattices, fearing life was astir behind 
them ! No need to listen for doors opening — to fancy 
steps on the pavement or the gravel-walk ! The lawn, 
the grounds were trodden and waste : the portal yawned 
void. The front was, as I had once seen it in a dream, 
but a shell-like wall, very high and very fragile looking, 
perforated with paneless windows : no roof, no battle- 
ments, no chimneys — all had crashed in. 

And there was the silence of death about it : the 
solitude of a lonesome wild. No wonder that letters 
addressed to people here had never received an answer : 
as well despatch epistles to a vault in a church aisle. 
The grim blackness of the stones told by what fate the 
Hall had fallen — by conflagration : but how kindled ? 
What story belonged to this disaster ? What loss, 
besides mortar and marble, and woodwork, had followed 
upon it ? Had life been wrecked, as well as property ? 
If so, whose ? Dreadful question : there was no one 
here to answer it — not even dumb sign, mute token. 

In wandering round the shattered walls and through 
the devastated interior, I gathered evidence that the 
calamity was not of late occurrence. Winter snows, I 
thought, had drifted through that void arch ; wintei 
rains beaten in at those hollow casements ; for, amidst 
the drenched piles of rubbish, spring had cherished 
vegetation : grass and weed grew here and there between 
the stones and fallen rafters. And oh ! where, mean- 



252 JANE EYRE. 

time, was the hapless owner of this wreck ? In what 
land ? Under what auspices ? My eye involuntarily 
wandered to the grey church tower near the gates, and 
1 asked, " Is he witli Darner de Rochester, sharing the 
shelter of his narrow marble house ? " 

Some answer must be had to these questions. I 
could find it nowhere but at the inn, and thither, ere 
long, I returned. Tiie host himself brought my break- 
fast into the parlour. I requested him to shut the door 
and sit down : I had some questions to ask him. But 
when he complied, I scarcely knew how to begin ; such 
horror had I of the possible answers. And yet the 
spectacle of desolation I had just left, prepared me in a 
measure for a tale of misery. The host was a respect- 
able-looking, middle-aged man. 

" You know Thornfield Hall, of course ? " I 
managed to say at last. 

" Yes, ma'am ; I lived there once." 

" Did you ? " Not in my time, I thought : you are 
a stranger to me. 

" I was the late Mr Rochester's butler," he added. 

The late ! I seemed to have received with full 
force, the blow I had been trying to evade. 

" The late ! " I gasped. " Is he dead ? " 

" I mean the ])resent gentleman, Mr Edward's 
father," he explained. I breathed again : my blood 
resumed its flow. Fully assured by these words that 
Mr Edward — my Mr Rochester (Ciod bless him, 
wherever he was ! ) was at least alive : was, in short, 
"the present gentleman." Gladdening words! It 
seemed I could hear all that was to come — whatever the 
disclosures might be — with comparative tranquillity. 
Since he was not in the grave, I could bear, 1 thought, 
to learn that he was at the Antipodes. 

" Is Mr Rochester living at Thornfield Hall now ?" 
I asked, knowing, of course, what the answer would be, 



JANE EYRE. 253 

but yet desirous of deferring the direct question as to 
where he really was. 

" No, Ma'am — oh, no ! No one is living there. I 
suppose you are a stranger in these parts, or you would 
have heard what happened last autumn, — Thornfield 
Hall is quite a ruin : it was burnt down just about har- 
vest time. A dreadful calamity ! sucii an immense 
quantity of valuable property destroyed : hardly any of 
the furniture could be saved. The fire broke out at 
dead of night, and before the engines arrived from Mill- 
cote, the building was one mass of flame. It was a 
terrible spectacle : I witnessed it myself." 

" At dead of night ! " 1 muttered. Yes, that was 
ever the hour of fatality at Thornfield. " Was it 
known how it originated ? " I demanded. 

" They guessed, ma'am : they guessed. Indeed, I 
should say it was ascertained beyond a doubt. You 
are not perhaps aware," he continued, edging his chair 
a little nearer the table, and speaking low, " that there 
was a lady, — a — a lunatic, kept in the house ? " 

" I have heard something of it." 

" She was kept in very close confinement, ma'am ; 
people even for some years was not absolutely certain 
of her existence. No one saw her : they only knew 
by rumour that such a person was at the Hall ; and 
who or what she was it was difficult to conjec- 
ture. They said Mr Edward had brought her from 
abroad ; and some believed siie had been his mistress. 
But a queer thing happened a year since — a very queer 
thing." 

I feared now to hear my own story. I endeavoured 
to recall him to the main tact. 

" And this lady > " 

" This lady, ma'am," he answered, " turned out to 
be Mr Rochester's wife ! The discovery was brought 
about in the strangest way. There was a young lady, 



254 JANE EYRE. 

a governess at the Hall, that Mr Rochester fell 



" But the fire," I suggested. 

" I'm coming to that, ma'am — that Mr Edward fell 
in love with. The servants say they never saw any- 
body so much in love as he was : he was after her con- 
tinually. They used to watch him — servants will, you 
know, ma'am — and he set store on her past everything : 
for all, nobody but him thought her so very handsome. 
She was a little small thing, they say, almost like a 
child. I never saw herself; but I've heard Leah, the 
housemaid, tell of her. Leah liked her well enough. 
Mr Rochester was about forty, and this governess not 
twenty ; and you see, when gentlemen of his age fall in 
love with girls, they are often like as if they were be- 
witched : well, he would marry her." 

" You shall tell me this part of the story another 
time," I said ; " but now I have a particular reason for 
wishing to hear all about the fire. Was it suspected 
that this lunatic, Mrs Rochester, had any hand in 



It 



?" 



" You've hit it, ma'am : it's quite certain that it was 
her and nobody but her, that set it going. She had a 
woman to take care of her called Mrs Poole — an able 
woman in her line, and very trustworthy, but for one 
fault — a fault common to a deal of them nurses and 
matrons — she kept a private bottle of gin by her, and now 
and then took a drop over much. It is excusable, for 
she had a hard life of it : but still it was dangerous ; 
for when Mrs Poole was fast asleep, after the gin and 
water, the mad lady, who was as cunning as a witch, 
would take the keys out of her pocket, let herself out 
of her chamber, and go roaming about the house, doing 
any wild mischief that came into her head. They say 
she had nearly burnt her husband in his bed once : but 
1 don't know about that. However, on this night, she 



JANE EYRE. 255 

set fire first to the hangings of the room next her own ; 
and then she got down to a lower story, and made her 
way to the chamber that had been the governess's — (she 
was Hke as if she knew somehow liow matters had gone 
on, and had a spite at her)— and she kindled the bed 
there ; but there was nobody sleeping in it fortunately. 
The governess had run away two months before ; and 
for all Mr Rochester sought her as if she had been 
the most precious thing he had in the world, he never 
could hear a word of her ; and he grew savage — 
quite savage on his disappointment ; he never was a 
wild man, but he got dangerous after he lost her. He 
would be alone, too. He sent Mrs Fairfax, the house- 
keeper, away to her friends at a distance ; but he did it 
handsomely, for he settled an annuity on her for life : 
and she deserved it— she was a very good woman. 
Miss Adele, a ward he had, was put to school. He 
broke off acquaintance with all the gentry, and shut 
himself up, like a hermit, at the Hall." 

" What ! did he not leave England ? " 

" Leave England ? Bless you, no ! He would not 
cross the door-stones of the house ; except at night, 
when he walked just like a ghost about the grounds and 
in the orchard as if he had lost his senses — which it is 
my opinion he had ; for a more spirited, bolder, keener 
gentleman than he was before that midge of a governess 
crossed him, you never saw, ma'am. He was not a 
man given to wine, or cards, or racing, as some are, 
and he was not so very handsome ; but he had a 
courage and a will of iiis own, if ever man had. I 
knew him from a boy, you see : and for my part I 
have often wished that Miss Eyre had been sunk in the 
sea before she came to Thornfield Hall." 

" Then Mr Rochester was at home when the fire 
broke out ? " 

" Yes, indeed was he j and he went up to the attics 



256 JANE EYRE. 

when all was burning above and below, and got the 
servants out of their beds and helped them down him- 
self — and went back to get his mad wife out of her cell. 
And then they called out to him that she was on the 
roof; where she was standing, waving her arms, above 
the battlements, and shouting out till they could hear her 
a mile off: I saw her and heard her with my own eyes. 
She was a big woman, and had long, black hair : we 
could see it streaming against the flames as she stood. 
I witnessed, and several more witnessed Mr Rochester 
ascend through tlie skylight on to the roof: we heard 
him call ' Bertha ! ' We saw him approach her ; and 
then, ma'am, she yelled, and gave a spring, and the 
next minute she lay smashed on the pavement." 

"Dead?" 

" Dead ? Ay, dead as the stones on which her 
brains and blood were scattered." 

" Good God ! " 

" You may well say so, ma'am : it was frightful ! " 

He shuddered. 

" And afterwards ? " I urged. 

" Well, ma'am, afterwards the house was burnt to 
the ground : there are only some bits of walls standing 
now." 

" Were any other lives lost ? " 

" No — perhaps it would have been better if there 
had." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Poor Mr Edward ! " he ejaculated, " I little 
thought ever to have seen it ! Some say it was a just 
judgment on him for keeping his first marriage secret, 
and wanting to take another wife while he had one 
living : but I pity him, for my part." 

" You said he was alive ? " I exclaimed. 

" Yes, yes : he is alive ; but many think he had 
better be dead." 



JANE EYRE. 257 

"Why? How?" My blood was again running 
cold. 

" Where is he ? " I demanded. " Is he in Eng- 
land ? " 

" Ay — ay — he's in England ; he can't get out of 
England, I fancy — he's a fixture now." 

What agony was this ! And the man seemed re- 
solved to protract it. 

" He is stone-blind," he said at last. " Yes — he is 
stone-blind — is Mr Edward." 

I had dreaded worse. I had dreaded he was mad. 
I summoned strength to ask what had caused this 
calamity. 

" It was all his own courage, and a body may say, 
his kindness, in a way, ma'am : he wouldn't leave the 
house till every one else was out before him. As he 
came down the great staircase at last, after Mrs Rochester 
had flung herself from the battlements, there was a 
great crash — all fell. He was taken out from under 
the ruins, alive, but sadly hurt : a beam had fallen in 
such a way as to protect him partly ; but one eye was 
knocked out, and one hand so crushed that Mr Carter, 
the surgeon, had to amputate it directly. The other 
eye inflamed : he lost the sight of that also. He is 
now helpless, indeed — blind and a cripple." 

" Where is he ? Where does he now live ? " 

" At Ferndean, a manor-house on a farm he has, 
about thirty miles ofi^: quite a desolate spot." 

" Who is with him ? " 

" Old John and his wife : he would have none else. 
He is quite broken down, they say." 

" Have you any sort of conveyance ? " 

"We have a chaise, ma'am, a very handsome chaise." 

" Let it be got ready instantly ; and if your post-boy 
can drive me to Ferndean before dark this day, I'll pay 
both you and him twice the hire you usually demand." 

11. R 



258 JANE EYRE. 



Cl)apter xvvbij* 

THE manor-house of Ferndean was a building of 
considerable antiquity, moderate size, and no 
architectural pretensions, deep buried in a wood. 
I had heard of it before. Mr Rochester often spoke of 
it, and sometimes went there. His father had pur- 
chased the estate for the sake of the game covers. He 
would have let the house : but could find no tenant, in 
consequence of its ineligible and insalubrious site. Fern- 
dean then remained uninhabited and unfurnished ; with 
the exception of some two or three rooms fitted up 
for the accommodation of the squire when he went there 
in the season to shoot. 

To this house I came, just ere dark, on an evening 
marked by the characteristics of sad sky, cold gale, and 
continued small, penetrating rain. The last mile I 
performed on foot, having dismissed the chaise and 
driver with the double remuneration I had promised. 
Even when within a very short distance of the manor- 
house, you could see nothing of it ; so thick and dark 
grew the timber of the gloomy wood about it. Iron 
gates between granite pillars showed me where to enter, 
and passing through them, I found myself at once in 
the twilight of close-ranked trees. There was a grass- 
grown track descending the forest aisle, between hoar 
and knotty shafts and under branched arches. I 
followed it, expecting soon to reach the dwelling ; but 
it stretched on and on, it wound far and farther : no 
sign of habitation or grounds was visible. 

I thought I had taken a wrong direction and lost my 
way. The darkness of natural as well as of sylvan 
dusk gathered over me. I looked round in search of 
another road. There was none : all was interwoven 
stem, columnar trunk, dense, summer foliage — no 
opening anywhere. 



JANE EYRE. 259 

I proceeded : at last my way opened, the trees 
thinned a little ; presently I beheld a railing, shen the 
house — scarce, by this dim light, distinguishable from 
the trees ; so dank, and green were its decaying walls. 
Entering a portal, fastened only by a latch, I stood 
amidst a space ot enclosed ground, from which the 
wood swept away in a semicircle. There were no 
flowers, no garden-beds ; only a broad gravel-walk 
girdling a grass-plat, and this set in the heavy frame of 
the forest. The house presented two pointed gables in 
its front : the windows were latticed and narrow : the 
front-door was narrow too, one step led up to it. The 
whole looked, as the host of the Rochester Arms had 
said, " quite a desolate spot." It was as still as a 
church on a week-day : the pattering rain on the forest 
leaves was the only sound audible in its vicinage. 

" Can there be life here ? " I asked. 

Yes : life of some kind there was ; for I heard 
a movement — that narrow front-door was unclosing, 
and some shape was about to issue from the grange. 

It opened slowly : a figure came out into the twilight 
and stood on the step ; a man without a hat : he 
stietched forth his hand as if to feel whether it rained. 
Dusk as it was, I had recognised him — it was my 
master, Edward Fairfax Rochester, and no other. 

I stayed my step, almost my breath, and stood to 
watch him — to examine him, myself unseen, and alas ! 
to him invisible. It was a sudden meeting, and one in 
which rapture was kept well in check by pain. I had 
no difficulty in restraining my voice from exclamation, 
my step from hasty advance. 

His form was of the same strong and stalwart 
contour as ever : his port was still erect, his hair was 
still raven-black ; nor were his features altered or 
sunk : not in one year's space, by any sorrow, could his 
athletic strength be quelled, or his vigorous prime 



.^oSW""' 



26o JANE EYRE. 

blighted. But in his countenance, I saw a change : 
that looked desperate and brooding — that reminded me 
of some wronged and fettered wild beast or bird, 
dangerous to approach in his sullen woe. The caged 
eagle, whose gold-ringed eyes cruelty has extinguished, 
might look as looked that sightless Samson. 

And, reader, do you think I feared him in his blind 
ferocity ? — if you do, you little know me. A soft hope 
blent with my sorrow that soon I should dare to drop 
a kiss on that brow of rock, and on those lips so sternly 
sealed beneath it : but not yet. I would not accost 
him yet. 

He descended the one step, and advanced slowly and 
gropingly towards the grass-plat. Where was his daring 
stride now ? Then he paused, as if he knew not which 
way to turn. He lifted his hand and opened his eye- 
lids ; gazed blank, and with a straining effort, on the sky, 
and towards the amphitheatre of trees : one saw that all 
to him was void darkness. He stretched his right hand 
(the left arm, the mutilated one, he kept hidden in his 
bosom) ; he seemed to wish by touch to gain an idea of 
what lay around him : he met but vacancy still ; for the 
trees were some yards off where he stood. He relin- 
quished the endeavour, folded his arms, and stood quiet 
and mute in the rain, now falling fast on his uncovered 
head. At this moment John approached him from some 
quarter. 

" Will you take my arm, sir ? " he said ; " there is a 
heavy shower coming on : had you not better go in ? " 

" Let me alone," was the answer. 

John withdrew, without having observed me. Mr 
Rochester now tried to walk about : vainly, — all was 
too uncertain. He groped his way back to the house, 
and, re-entering it, closed the door. 

I now drew near and knocked : John's wife opened 
for me. " Mary," I said, " how are you ? " 



JANE EYRE. 26 1 

She started as if she had seen a ghost : I calmed her. 
To her hurried " Is it really you, miss, come at this 
late hour to this 'only place r " I answered by taking 
her hand ; and then 1 followed her into the kitchen, 
where John now sat by a good lire. I explained to 
them, in a few words, that I had heard all which had 
happened since I left Thornfield, and that I was come 
to see Mr Rochester. I asked John to go down to the 
turnpike-house, wliere I had dismissed the chaise, and 
bring my trunk, which I had left there : and then, while 
I removed my bonnet and shawl, I questioned Mary as 
to whether I could be accommodated at the Manor 
House for the night ; and finding that arrangements to 
that effect, though difficult, would not be impossible, I 
informed her I should stay. Just at this moment the 
parlour-bell rang. 

" When you go in," said I, " tell your master that a 
person wishes to speak to him, but do not give my 
name." 

" 1 don't think he will see you," she answered ; " he 
refuses every body." 

When she returned, I inquired what he had said. 

" You are to send in your name and vour business," 
she replied. She then proceeded to fill a glass with 
water, and place it on a tiay, together with candles. 

" Is that what he rang for ? " I asked. 

" Yes : he always has candles brought in at dark, 
though he is blind." 

" Give the tray to me, I will carry it in." 

I took it from her hand : she pointed me out the 
parlour door. The tray shook as I held it ; the water 
spilt from the glass ; my heart struck my ribs loud and 
fast. Mary o])cned the door for me, and shut it beliind 
me. 

This parlour looked gloomy : a neglected handful of 
fire burnt low in the grate ; and, leaning over it, with 



262 JANE EYRE. 

his head supported against the high, old-fashioned 
mantel-piece, appeared the blind tenant of the room. 
His old dog, Pilot, lay on one side, removed out of the 
way, and coiled up as if afraid of being inadvertently 
trodden upon. Pilot pricked up his ears when I came 
in : then he jumped up with a yelp and a whine, and 
bounded towards me : he almost knocked the tray from 
my hands. I set it on the table ; then patted him, and 
said softly, " Lie down ! " Mr Rochester turned 
mechanically to see what the commotion was : but as he 
saw nothing, he returned and sighed. 

" Give me the water, Mary," he said. 

I approached him with the now only half-filled glass. 
Pilot followed me, still excited. 

" What is the matter? " he inquired. 

" Down, Pilot ! " I again said. He checked the 
water on its way to his lips, and seemed to listen : he 
drank, and put the glass down. " This is you, Mary, 
is it not ? " 

" Mary is in the kitchen," I answered. 

He put out his hand with a quick gesture, but not 
seeing where I stood, he did not touch me. " Who is 
this ? Who is this ? " he demanded, trying, as it seemed, 
to see with those sightless eyes — unavailing and distress- 
ing attempt ! " Answer me — speak again ! " he 
ordered, imperiously and aloud. 

" Will you have a little more water, sir ? I spilt half 
of what was in the glass," I said. 

♦' Who is it ? What is it ? Who speaks ? " 

" Pilot knows me, and John and Mary know I am 
here. I came only this evening," I answered. 

"Great God! — what delusion has come over me ? 
What sweet madness has seized me ? " 

'•No delusion — no madness : your mind, sir, is too 
strong for delusion, your health too sound for frenzy." 

"And where is the speaker? Is it only a voice? 



JANE EYRE. 263 

Oh ! I cannot see, but I must feel, or my heart will stop 
and my brain burst. Whatever — whoever you are — 
be perceptible to the touch or I cannot live ! " 

He groped ; I arrested his wandering hand, and 
prisoned it in both mine. 

" Her very fingers ! " he cried ; " her small, slight 
fingers ! If so, there must be more of her." 

The muscular hand broke from my custody ; my arm 
was seized, my shoulder — neck — waist — I was entwined 
and gathered to him. 

" Is it Jane ? What is it ? This is her shape — this 
is her size " 

" And this her voice," I added. " She is all here : 
her heart, too. God bless you, sir ! I am glad to be 
so near you again." 

"Jane Eyre! — Jane Eyre," was all he said. 

" My dear master," I answered, " I am Jane Eyre : 
I have found you out — I am come back to you." 

" In truth ? — in the flesh ? My living Jane ? " 

" You touch me, sii-, — you hold me, and fast 
enough : I am not cold like a corpse, nor vacant like 

T 3 " 

air, am i ; 

" My living darling ! These are certainly her limbs, 
and these her features ; but I cannot be so blest, after 
all my misery. It is a dream ; such dreams as I have 
had at night when I have clasped her once more to my 
heart, as I do now ; and kissed her, as thus — and felt 
that she loved me, and trusted that she would not leave 
me." 

"Which I never will, sir, from this day." 
" Never will, says the vision ? But I always woke 
and found it an empty mockery ; and I was desolate 
and abandoned — my life dark, lonely, hopeless — my 
soul athirst and forbidden to drink — my heart famished 
and never to be fed. Gentle, soft dream, nestling in 
my arms now, you will fly, too, as your sisters have all 



264 JANE EYRE. 

fled before you : but kiss me before you go — embrace 
me, Jane." 

" There, sir — and there ! " 

I pressed my lips to his once brilliant and now ray- 
less eyes — I swept his hair from his brow, and kissed 
that too. He suddenly seemed to arouse himself: the 
conviction of the reality of all this seized him. 

" It is you — is it Jane ? You are come back to me, 
then ? " 

« I am." 

" And you do not lie dead in some ditch under some 
stream ? And you are not a pining outcast amongst 
strangers ? " 

" No, sir ; I am an independent woman now." 

" Independent ! What do you mean, Jane ? " 

" My uncle in Madeira is dead, and he left me five 
thousand pounds." 

"Ah, this is practical — this is real ! " he cried: " I 
should never dream that. Besides, there is that peculiar 
voice of hers, so animating and piquant, as well as soft : 
it cheers my withered heart ; it puts life into it. — - 
What, Janet ! Are you an independent woman ? A 
rich woman ? " 

" Quite rich, sir. If you won't let me live with you, 
I can build a house of my own close up to your door, 
and you may come and sit in my parlour when you want 
company of an evening." 

" But as you are rich, Jane, you have now, no doubt, 
friends who will look after you, and not suffer you to 
devote yourself to a blind lameter like me ? " 

" I told you I am independent, sir, as well as rich : 
I am my own mistress." 

" And you will stay with me ? " 

" Certainly — unless you object. I will be your 
neigiibour, your nurse, your housekeeper. I find you 
lonely : I will be your companion — to read to you, ta 



JANE EYRE. 265 

walk with you, to sit with you, to wait on you, to be 
eyes and hands to you. Cease to look, so melancholy, 
my dear master ; you shall not be left desolate, so long 
as I live." 

He replied not : he seemed serious — abstracted ; he 
sighed ; he half-opened his lips as if to speak : he 
closed them again. I felt a little embarrassed. Perhaps 
I had too rashly overleaped conventionalities ; and he, 
like St John, saw impropriety in my inconsiderateness. 
I had indeed made my proposal fiom the idea that he 
wished and would ask me to be his wife : an expecta- 
tion, not the less certain because unexpressed, had 
buoyed me up, that he would claim me at once as his 
own. But no hint to that effect escaping him and his 
countenance becoming more overcast, I suddenly remem- 
bered that I might have been all wrong, and was per- 
haps playing the fool unwittingly ; and I began gently 
to withdraw myself from his arms — but he eagerly 
snatched me closer. 

" No — no — Jane ; you must not go. No — I have 
touched you, heard you, felt the comfort of your 
presence — the sweetness of your consolation : I cannot 
give up these joys. I have little left in myself — I must 
have you. The world may laugh — may call me 
absurd, selfish — but it does not signify. My very soul 
demands you : it will be satisfied : or it will take deadly 
vengeance on its frame." 

" Well, sir, I will stay witli you : I have said 
so." 

" Yes — but you understand one thing by stiiying 
with me : and I understand another. You, perhaps, 
could make up your mind to be about my hand and 
chair — to wait on me as a kind little nurse (for you 
have an affectionate heart and a generous spirit, which 
prompt you to make sacrifices for those you pity), and 
that ought to suffice for me no doubt. I suppose I 



266 JANE EYRE. 

should now entertain none but fatherly feelings for you : 
do you think, so ? Come — tell me." 

" I will think what you like, sir : I am content to 
be only your nurse, if you think it better." 

" But you cannot always be my nurse, Janet : you 
are young — you must marry one day." 

" I don't care about being nianied." 

" You should care, Janet : if I were what I once 
was, I would try to make you care — but — a sightless 
block ! " 

He relapsed again into gloom. I, on the contrary, 
became more cheerful, and took fresh courage : these 
last words gave me an insight as to where the difficulty 
lay ; and as it was no difficulty with me, I felt quite 
relieved from my previous embarrassment. I resumed a 
livelier vein of conversation. 

" It is time some one undertook to rehumanise you," 
said I, parting his thick and long uncut locks ; " for I see 
you are being metamoi^phosed into a lion, or something 
of that sort. You have a ' faux air ' of Nebuchad- 
nezzar in the fields about you, that is certain : your hair 
reminds me of eagles' feathers ; whether your nails are 
grown like birds' claws or not, I have not yet noticed." 

" On this arm, I have neither hand nor nails," he 
said, drawing the mutilated limb from his breast, and 
showing it to me. " It is a mere stump — a ghastly 
sight ! Don't you think so, Jane ? " 

" It is a pity to see it ; and a pity to see your eyes — 
and the scar of fire on your forehead : and the worst of 
it is, one is in danger of loving you too well for all 
this; and making too much of you." 

" I thought you would be revolted, Jane, when you 
saw my arm, and my cicatrised visage." 

" Did you ? Don't tell me so — lest I should say 
something disparaging to your judgment. Now, let 
me leave you an instant, to make a better fire, and have 



JANE EYRE. 267 

the hearth swept up. Can you tell wlien there is a 
good fire ? " 

" Yes ; with the right eye I see a glow — a ruddy 
haze." 

" And you see the candles ? " 

" Very dimly — each is a luminous cloud." 

" Can you see me ? " 

" No, my fairy : but I am only too thankful to hear 
and feel you." 

" When do you take supper ? " 

" I never take supper." 

" But you shall have some to-night. I am hungry : 
so are you, I daresay, only you forget." 

Summoning Mary, I soon had the room in more 
cheerful order : T prepared him, likewise, a comfortable 
repast. My spirits were excited, and with pleasure and 
ease I talked to him during supper, and for a long time 
after. There was no harassing restraint, no repressing 
of glee and vivacity with him ; for with him I was at 
perfect ease, because I knew I suited him : all I said or 
did seemed either to console or revive him. Delightful 
consciousness ! It brought to life and light my whole 
nature : in his presence I thoroughly lived ; and he 
lived in mine. Blind as he was, smiles played over his 
face, joy dawned on his forehead : his lineaments 
softened and warmed. 

After supper, he began to ask me many questions, of 
where I had been, what I had been doing, how I had 
found him out ; but I gave him only very partial replies : it 
was too late to enter into particulars that night. Be- 
sides, I wished to touch no deep-thrilhng chord — to 
open no fresh well of emotion in his heart : my sole 
present aim was to cheer him. Cheered, as I have said, 
he was : and yet but by fits. If a moment's silence 
broke the conversation, he would turn restless, touch 
me, then say, " Jane." 



268 JANE EYRE. 

" You arc altogether a human being, Jane ? You are 
certain of that ? " 

" I conscientiously believe so, Mr Rochester." 

" Yet how, on this dark and doleful evening, could 
you so suddenly rise on my lone hearth ? I stretched 
my hand to take a glass of water from a hireling, and it 
was given me by you : I asked a question, expecting 
John's wife to answer me, and your voice spoke at my 
ear." 

*' Because I had come in, in Mary's stead, with the 
tray." 

" And there is enchantment in the very hour I am 
now spending with you. Who can tell what a dark, 
dreary, hopeless life I have dragged on for months 
past ? Doing nothing, expecting nothing ; merging 
night in day ; feeling but the sensation of cold when I 
let the fire go out, of hunger when I forgot to eat : and 
then a ceaseless sorrow, and, at times, a very delirium of 
desire to behold my Jane again. Yes : for her restoration 
I longed, far more than for that of my lost sight. How 
can it be that Jane is with me, and says she loves me ? 
Will she not depart as suddenly as she came ? To- 
morrow, I fear I shall find her no more." 

A common-place, practical reply, out of the train of 
his own disturbed ideas, was, I was sure, the best and 
most reassuring for him in this frame of mind. I passed 
my finger over his eyebrows, and remarked that they 
were scorched, and that I would apply something 
which should make them grow as broad and black as 
ever. 

" Where is the use of doing me good in any way, 
beneficent spirit, when, at some fatal moment, you will 
again desert me — passing like a shadow, whither and how 
to me unknown ; and for me, remaining afterwards 
undiscoverable ? " 

" Have you a pocket-comb about you, sir ? " 



JANE EYRE. 269 

" What for, Jane ? " 

" Just to comb out this shaggy black mane. I find 
you rather alarming, when I examine you close at hand : 
you talk of my being a fairy ; but I am sure, you are 
more like a brownie." 

" Am I hideous, Jane ? " 

"Very, sir : you always were, you know." 

" Humph ! The wickedness has not been taken out 
of you, wherever you have sojourned." 

" Yet I have been with good people ; far better than 
you : a hundred times better people ; possessed of ideas 
and views you never entertained in your life : quite more 
refined and exalted." 

" Who the deuce have you been with ? " 

" If you twist in that way you will make me pull 
the hair out of your head ; and then I think 
you will cease to entertain doubts of my substan- 
tiaHty." 

" Who have you been with, Jane ? " 

" You shall not get it out of me to-night, sir ; you 
must wait till to-morrow ; to leave my tale half-told, 
will, you know, be a sort of security that I shall appear 
at your breakfast-table to finish it. By-thc-by, I must 
mind not to rise on your hearth with only a glass of 
water, then : I must bring an egg at the least, to say 
nothing of fried ham." 

" You mocking changeling — fairy-born and human- 
bred ! You make me feel as I have not felt these 
twelve months. If Saul could have had you for his 
David, the evil spirit would have been exorcised with- 
out the aid of the harp." 

" There, sir, you are redd up and made decent. Now 
I'll leave you : I have been travelling these last three 
days, and I believe I am tired. Good-night." 

"Just one word, Jane : were there only ladies in the 
house where you have been I " 



270 JANE EYRE. 

T laughed and made my escape, still laughing as I ran 
upstairs. " A good idea ! " I thought, with glee. " I 
see I have the means of fretting him out of his melan- 
choly for some time to come." 

Very early the next morning, I heard him up and 
astir, wandering from one room to another. As soon 
as Mary came down I heard the question : " Is Miss 
Eyre here?" Then: "Which room did you put her 
into ? Was it dry ? Is she up ? Go and ask. if she 
wants anything ; and when she will come down." 

I came down as soon as I thought there was a pro- 
spect of breakfast. Entering the room very softly, I 
had a view of him before he discovered my presence. 
It was mournful, indeed, to witness the subjugation of 
that vigorous spirit to a corporeal infirmity. He sat in 
his chair, — still, but not at rest : expectant evidently ; 
the lines of now habitual sadness marking his strong 
features. His countenance reminded one of a lamp 
quenched, waiting to be relit — and alas ! it was not 
himself that could now kindle the lustre of animated 
expression : he was dependent on another for that 
office ! I had meant to be gay and careless, but the 
powerlessness of the strong man touched my heart to 
the quick : still I accosted him with what vivacity I 
could : — 

" It is a bright, sunny morning, sir," I said. 
" The rain is over and gone, and there is a 
tender shining after it : you shall have a walk 
soon." 

I had wakened the glow : his features beamed. 

" Oh, you are indeed there, my sky-lark ! Come to 
me. You are not gone : not vanished ? I heard one 
of your kind an hour ago, singing high over the wood : 
but its song had no music for me, any more than the 
rising sun had rays. All the melody on earth is con- 



JANE EYRE. 27 1 

centrated in my Jane's tongue to my ear (I am glad it 
is not naturally a silent one) : all the sunshine I can 
feel is in her presence." 

The water stood in my eyes to hear this avowal of 
his dependence : just as if a royal eagle, chained to a 
perch, should be forced to entreat a sparrow to become 
its purveyor. But I would not be lachrymose : I 
dashed off the salt drops, and busied myself with pre- 
paring breakfast. 

Most of the morning was spent in the open air. I 
led him out of the wet and wild wood into some cheer- 
ful fields : I described to him how brilliantly green they 
were ; how the flowers and hedges looked refreshed ; 
how sparklingly blue was the sky. I sought a seat for 
him in a hidden and lovely spot : a dry stump of a 
tree ; nor did I refuse to let him, when seated, place me 
on his knee : why should I, when both he and I were 
happier near than apart ? Pilot lay beside us : all was 
quiet. He broke out suddenly while clasping me in 
his arms : — 

" Cruel, cruel deserter ! Oh, Jane, what did I feel 
when I discovered you had fled from Thomfield, and 
when I could nowhere find you ; and, after examining 
your apartment, ascertained that you had taken no 
money, nor anything which could serve as an equivalent ! 
A pearl necklace I had given you lay untouched in its 
little casket ; your trunks were left corded and locked 
as they had been prepared for the bridal tour. What 
could my darling do, I asked, left destitute and penniless ? 
And what did she do ? Let me hear now." 

Thus urged, I began the narrative of my experience 
for the last year. I softened considerably what related 
to the three days of wandering and starvation, because 
to have told him all would have been to inflict unneces- 
sary pain : the little I did say lacerated his faithful heart 
deeper than I wished. 



272 JANE EYRK. 

I should not have left him thus, he said, without any 
means of making my way : I should have told him my 
intention. I should have confided in him : he would 
never have forced me to be his mistress. Violent as he 
had seemed in his despair, he, in truth, loved me far 
too well and too tenderly to constitute himself my 
tyrant : he would have given me half his fortune, with- 
out demanding so much as a kiss in return, rather than 
I should have flung myself friendless on the wide world. 
I had endured, he was certain, more than I had con- 
fessed to him. 

" Well, whatever my sufferings had been, they were 
very short," I answered : and then I proceeded to tell 
him how I had been received at Moor House ; how I 
had obtained the office of schoolmistress, &c. The ac- 
cession of fortune, the discovery of my relations, 
followed in due order. Of course, St John Rivers' 
name came in frequently in tlie progress of my tale. 
When I had done, that name was immediately taken 

" This St John, then, is your cousin ? " 

« Yes." 

" You have spoken of him often ; did you like 
him ? " 

" He was a very good man, sir ; I could not help 
liking him." 

" A good man ? Does that mean a respectable, 
well-conducted man of fifty ? Or what does it mean ? " 

" St John was only twenty-nine, sir ? " 

" * Jeune encore,^ as the French say. Is he a person 
of low stature, phlegmatic, and plain ? A person 
whose goodness consists rather in his guiltlessness of 
vice, than in his prowess in virtue ? " 

" He is untiringly active. Great and exalted deeds 
are what he lives to perform." 

" But his brain ? That is probably rather soft ? He 



JANE EYRE. 273 

means well : but you shrug your shoulders to hear him 
talk ? " 

" He talks little, sir : what he does say is ever to the 
point. His brain is first-rate, I should think not im- 
pressible, but vigorous." 

" Is he an able man, then ? " 

" Truly able." 

" A thoroughly educated man ? " 

" St John is an accomplished and profound scholar." 

" His manners, I think, you said are not to your 
taste ? — priggish and parsonic ? " 

" I never mentioned his manners ; but, unless I had 
a very bad taste, they must suit it ; they are polished, 
calm, and gentleman like." 

" His appearance, — I forget what description you 
gave of his appearance ; — a sort of raw curate, half 
strangled with his white neckcloth, and stilted up on 
his thick-soled high-lows, eh ? " 

" St John dresses well. He is a handsome man : 
tall, fair with blue eyes, and a Grecian profile." 

[jiside.) " Damn him ! " — ( To me.) " Did you like 
him, Jane : " 

" Yes, Mr Rochester, I liked him : but you asked 
me that before." 

I perceived, of course, the drift of my interlocutor. 
.Jealousy had got hold of him : she stung him ; but the 
sting was salutary : it gave him respite from the gnaw- 
ing fang of melancholy. I would not, therefore, im- 
mediately charm the snake. 

" Perhaps you would rather not sit any longer on my 
knee. Miss Eyre ? " was the next somewhat unexpected 
observation. 

" Why not, Mr Rochester •* " 

" The picture you have just drawn is suggestive of a 
rather too overwhelming contrast. Your words have 
delineated very prettily a graceful Apollo : he is present 

II. S 



274 JANE EYRE. 

to your imagination, — tall, fair, blue-eyed, and with a 
Grecian profile. Your eyes dwell on a Vulcan, — a real 
blacksmith, brown, broad-shouldered ; and blind and 
lame into the bargain." 

" I never thought of it, before ; but you ceitainly are 
rather like Vulcan, sir." 

" Well, — you can leave me, ma'am : but before you 
go " (and he retained me by a firmer grasp than ever), 
" you will be pleased just to answer me a question or 
two." He paused. 

" What questions, Mr Rochester ? " 

Then followed this cross-examination. 

" St John made you schoolmistress of Morton before 
he knew you were his cousin ? " 

« Yes." 

" You would often see him ? He would visit the 
school sometimes ? " 

" Daily." 

" He would approve of your plans, Jane ? I know 
they would be clever, for you are a talented creature ? " 

" He approved of them— yes." 

" He would discover many things in you he could 
not have expected to find? Some of your accomplish- 
ments are not ordinary." 

" I don't know about that." 

" You had a little cottage near the school, you say : 
did he ever come there to see you ? " 

" Now and then ? " 

'* Of an evening ? " 

" Once or twice." 

A pause. 

" How long did you reside with him and his sisters 
after the cousinship was discovered ? " 

" Five months." 

" Did Rivers spend much time with tlie ladies of his 
family ? " 



JANE EYRE. 275 

" Yes ; the back, parlour was both his study and ours : 
he sat near the window, and we by the table." 

" Did he study much ? " 

« A good deal." 

« What ? " 

" Hindostanee." 

" And what did you do meantime ? " 

" I learnt German, at lirst." 

" Did he teach you ? " 

" He did not understand German." 

" Did he teach you nothing r " 

" A little Hindostanee." 

" Rivers taught you Hindostanee ? " 

" Yes, sir " 

" And his sisters also ? " 

" No." 

" Only you ? " 

" Only me." 

" Did you ask to learn ? " 

"No." 

" He wished to teach you ? " 

« Yes." 

A second pause. 

" Why did he wish it ? Of what use could Hindo- 
stanee be to you ? " 

" He intended me to go with him to India." 

" Ah ! here I reach the root of the matter. He 
wanted you to marry him ? " 

" He asked me to marry him." 

" That is a fiction — an impudent invention to vex 
me." 

" I beg your pardon, it is the literal truth : he asked 
me more than once, and was as stiff about urging his 
point as ever you could be." 

" Miss Eyre, I repeat it, you can leave me. How 
often am I to say the same thing ? Why do you remain 



276 JANE EYRE. 

pertinaciously perched on my knee, when I have given 
you notice to quit ? " 

" Because I am comfortable there." 
" No, Jane, you are not comfortable there, because 
your heart is not with me : it is with this cousin — this 
St John. Oh, till this moment, I thought my little 
Jane was all mine ! I had a belief she loved me even 
when she left me : that was an atom of sweet in much 
bitter. Long as we have been parted, hot tears as I 
have wept over our separation, I never thought that 
while I was mourning her, she was loving another ! 
But it is useless grieving. Jane, leave me : go and 
marry Rivers." 

" Shake me off, then, sir, — push me away, for I'll 
not leave you of my own accord." 

" Jane, I ever like your tone of voice : it still renews 
hope, it sounds so truthful. When I hear it, it carries 
me back a year. I forget that you have formed a new 

tie. But I am not a fool — go " 

" Where must I go, sir ? " 

" Your own way — with the husband you have 
chosen." 

" Who is that ? " 

" You know — this St John Rivers." 
" He is not my husband, nor ever will be. He does 
not love me : I do not love him. He loves (as he can 
love, and that is not as you love) a beautiful young lady 
called Rosamond. He wanted to marry me only 
because he thought I should make a suitable missionary's 
wife, which she would not have done. He is good and 
great, but severe ; and, for me, cold as an iceberg. He 
is not like you, sir : I am not happy at his side, nor near 
him, nor with him. He has no indulgence for me — no 
fondness. He sees nothing attractive in me ; not even 
youth — only a few useful mental points. — Then I must 
leave you, sir, to go to him ? " 



JANE EYRE, 277 

I shuddered involuntarily, and clung instinctively 
closer to my blind but beloved master. He smiled. 

" What, Jane ! Is this true ? Is such really the 
state of matters between you and Rivers?" 

" Absolutely, sir. Oh, you need not be jealous ! I 
wanted to tease you a little to make you less sad : I 
thought anger would be better than grief. But if you 
wish me to love you, could you but see how much I do 
love you, you would be proud and content. All ray 
heart is yours, sir : it belongs to you ; and with you it 
would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from 
your presence for ever." 

Again, as he kissed me, painful thoughts darkened his 
aspect. 

"My seared vision! My crippled strength!" he 
murmured regretfully. 

I caressed, in order to soothe him. I knew of what 
he was thinking, and wanted to speak for him ; but dared 
not. As he turned aside his face a minute, I saw a tear 
slide from under the sealed eyelid, and trickle down the 
manly cheek. My heart swelled. 

" I am no better than the old lightning-struck chesnut- 
tree in Thorniield orchard," he remarked, ere long. 
♦' And what right would that ruin have to bid a budding 
woodbine cover its decay with freshness ? " 

" You are no ruin, sir — no lightning-struck tree : you 
are green and vigorous. Plants will grow about your 
roots, whether you ask them or not, because they take 
delight in your bountiful shadow ; and as they grow they 
will lean towards you, and wind round you, because your 
strength offers them so safe a prop." 

Again he smiled : I gave him comfort. 

" You speak of friends, Jane ? " he asked. 

" Yes ; of friends," I answered, rather hesitatingly : 
for I knew I meant more than friends, but could not 
tell what other word to employ. He helped me ! 



278 JANE EYRE. 

" Ah ! Jane. But I want a wife." 

" Do you, sir ? " 

" Yes : is it news to you ? " 

" Of course : you said nothing about it before." 

" Is it unwelcome news ? " 

" That depends on circumstances, sir — on your 
choice." 

" Which you shall make for me, Jane. I will abide 
by your decision." 

" Choose then, sir — her nvho loves you best.'^ 

" I will at least choose — her I love best. Jane, will 
you marry me ? " 

" 1 es, sir. 

" A poor blind man, whom you will have to lead 
about by the hand ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" A crippled man, twenty years older than you, whom 
you will have to wait on ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Truly, Jane >. " 

" Most truly, sir." 

" Oh ! my darling ! God bless you and reward 
you ! 

" Mr Rochester, if ever I did a good deed in my 
life — if ever I thought a good thought — if ever I prayed 
a sincere and blameless prayer — if ever I wished a 
righteous wish, — I am rewarded now. To be your 
wife is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth." 

" Because you delight in sacrifice." 

" Sacrifice ! What do I sacrifice ? Famine for 
food, expectation for content. To be privileged to put 
my arms round what I value — to press my lips to what 
I love — to repose on what I trust : is that to make a 
sacrifice ? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice." 

" And to bear with my infirmities, Jane : to overlook 
my deficiencies." 



JANE EYRE. 279 

"Which are none, sir, to mc. I Jove you better 
now, when I can really be useful to you, than I did in 
your state of proud independence, when you disdained 
every part but that of the giver and protector." 

" Hitherto I have hated to be helped — to be led : 
henceforth, I feel, I shall hate it no more. I did not 
like to put my hand into a hireling's, but it is pleasant 
to feel it circled by Jane's little fingers. I preferred 
utter loneliness to the constant attendance of servants ; 
but Jane's soft ministry will be a peqoetual joy. Jane 
suits me : do I suit her ? " 

" To the finest fibre of my nature, sir." 

" The case being so, we have nothing in the world to 
wait for : we must be married instantly." 

He looked and spoke with eagerness : his old 
impetuosity was rising. 

" We must become one flesh without any delay, 
Jane : there is but the licence to get — then we 
marry." 

"Mr Rochester, 1 have just discovered the sun is 
far declined from its meridian, and Pilot is actually 
gone home to his dinner. Let me look at your 
watch." 

" Fasten it into your girdle, Janet, and keep it hence- 
forward : I have no use for it." 

" It is nearly four o'clock in the afternoon, sir. 
Don't you feel hungry ? " 

" The third day from this must be our wedding-day, 
Jane. Never mind fine clothes and jewels, now : all 
that is not worth a fillip." 

" The sun has dried up all the rain-drops, sir. The 
breeze is still : it is quite hot." 

" Do you know, Jane, I have your little pearl neck- 
lace at this moment fastened round my bronze scrag 
under my cravat ? I have worn it since the day I lost 
my only treasure : as a memento of her." 



28o JANE EYRE. 

" We will go home through the wood : that will be 
the shadiest way." 

He pursued his own thoughts without heeding me. 

" Jane ! you think, me, I daresay, an irreligious dog : 
but riiy heart swells with gratitude to the beneficent God 
of this earth just now. He sees not as man sees, but 
far clearer : judges not as man judges, but far more 
wisely. I did wrong : I would have sullied my inno- 
cent flower — breathed guilt on its purity : the Omni- 
potent snatched it from me. I, in my stiff-necked 
rebellion, almost cursed the dispensation : instead of 
bending to the decree, I defied it. Divine justice pur- 
sued its course ; disasters came thick on me : I was forced 
to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. His 
chastisements are mighty ; and one smote me which has 
humbled me for ever. You know I was proud of my 
strength : but what is it now, when I must give it over 
to foreign guidance, as a child does its weakness ? Of 
late, Jane — only — only of late — I began to see and 
acknowledge .he hand of God in my doom. I began 
to experience remorse, repentance ; the wish for recon- 
cilement to my Maker. I began sometimes to pray : 
very brief prayers they were, but very sincere. 

" Some days since : nay, I can number them — four ; 
it was last Monday night, a singular mood came over 
me : one in which grief replaced frenzy — sorrow, sullen- 
ness. I had long had the impression that since I could 
nowhere find you, you must be dead. Late that night 
— perhaps it might be between eleven and twelve o'clock 
— ere I retired to my dreary rest, I supplicated God, 
that, if it seemed good to Him, I might soon be taken 
from this life, and admitted to that world to come, 
where there was still hope of rejoining Jane." 

" I was in my own room, and sitting by the window, 
which was open : it soothed me to feel the balmy night- 
air ; though I could see no stars, and only by a vague, 



JANE EYRE. 28 1 

luminous haze, knew the presence of a moon. I 
longed for thee, Janet ! Oh, I longed for thee both 
with soul and flesh ! I asked of God, at once in 
anguish and humility, if I had not been long enough 
desolate, afflicted, tormented ; and might not soon taste 
bliss and peace once more. That I merited all I en- 
dured, I acknowledged — that I could scarcely endure 
more, I pleaded ; and the alpha and omega of my heart's 
wishes broke involuntarily from my lips in the words — 
* Jane ! Jane ! Jane ! ' " 

" Did you speak these words aloud ?" 

" I did, Jane. If any listener had heard me, he would 
have thought me mad : I pronounced them with such 
frantic energy." 

" And it was last Monday night : somewhere near 
midnight ? " 

" Yes ; but the time is of no consequence : what 
followed is the strange point. You will think me 
superstitious, — some superstition I have in my blood, 
and always had : nevertheless, this is true — true at least 
it is that I heard what I now relate. 

" As I exclaimed ' Jane ! Jane ! Jane ! ' a voice— -I 
cannot tell whence the voice came, but I know whose 
voice it was — replied, ' I am coming : wait for me ; ' 
and a moment after, went whispering on the wind, the 
words — ' Where are you ? ' 

" I'll tell you, if I can, the idea, the picture these 
words opened to my mind : yet it is difficult to express 
what I want to express. Ferndean is buried, as you 
see, in a heavy wood, where sound falls dull, and dies 
unreverberating. ' Where are you ? ' seemed spoken 
amongst mountains ; for I heard a hill-sent echo repeat 
the words. Cooler and fresher at the moment the gale 
seemed to visit my brow : I could have deemed that in 
some wild, lone scene, I and Jane were meeting. In 
spirit, I believe we must have met. You no doubt were. 



282 JANE EYRE. 

at that hour, in unconscious sleep, Jane : perhaps your 
soul wandered from its cell to comfort mine ; for those 
were your accents — as certain as I live — they were 
yours ! " 

Reader, it was on Monday night — near midnight — 
that I too had received the mysterious summons : those 
were the very words by which I replied to it. I listened 
to Mr Rochester's narrative ; but made no disclosure in 
return. The coincidence struck me as too awful and 
inexplicable to be communicated or discussed. If I 
told anything, my tale would be such as must necessarily 
make a profound impression on the mind of my hearer : 
and that mind, yet from its sufferings too prone to 
gloom, needed not the deeper shade of the super- 
natural. I kept these things then, and pondered them 
in my heart. 

" You cannot now wonder," continued my master, 
" that when you rose upon me so unexpectedly last night, 
I had difficulty in believing you any other than a mere 
voice and vision : something that would melt to silence 
and annihilation, as the midnight whisper and mountain 
echo had melted before. Now, I thank God ! I know 
it to be otherwise. Yes, I thank God ! " 

He put me off his knee, rose, and reverently lifting 
his hat from his brow, and bending his sightless eyes to 
the earth, he stood in mute devotion. Only the last 
words of the worship were audible. 

" I thank my Maker, that in the midst of judgment 
he has remembered mercy. I humbly entreat my Re- 
deemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer 
life than I have done hitherto ! " 

Then he stretched his hand out to be led. I took 
that dear hand, held it a moment to my lips, then let it 
pass round my shoulder: being so much lower of stature 
than he, I served both for his prop and guide. We 
entered the wood, and wended homeward. 



JANE EYRE. 283 

Chapter %i:%biij* 

CONCLUSION- 

READER, 1 married him. A quiet wedding we 
had : he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone 
present. When we got back from church, I 
went into the kitchen of the manor-house, where Mary 
was cooking the dinner, and John cleaning the knives, 
and I said : — 

" Mary, I have been married to Mr Rochester this 
morning." The housekeeper and her husband were 
both of that decent phlegmatic order of people, to 
whom one may at any time safely communicate a re- 
markable piece of news without incurring tlie danger of 
having one's ears pierced by some shrill ejaculation, and 
subsequently stunned by a torrent of wordy wonder- 
ment. Mary did look up, and she did stare at me : 
the ladle with which she was basting a pair of chickens 
roasting at the fire, did for some three minutes hang 
suspended in the air ; and for the same space of time 
John's knives also had a rest from the polishing process : 
but Mary, bending again over the roast, said only — 

" Have you. Miss ? Well, for sure ! " 

A short time after she pursued : " I seed you go out 
with the master, but I didn't know you were gone to 
church to be wed ; " and she basted away. John, 
when I turned to him, was grinning from ear to ear. 

" I telled Mary how it would be," he said : " I 
knew what Mr Edward" (John was an old servant, and 
had known his master when he was the cadet of the 
house, therefore, he often gave him his Christian name) 
— " I knew what Mr Edward would do ; and I was 
certain he would not wait long neither : and he's done 
right, for aught I know. I wish you joy. Miss ! " and 
he politely pulled his forelock. 



284 JANE EYRE. 

" Thank you, John. Mr Rochester told me to give 
you and Mary this." I put into his hand a five-pound 
note. Without waiting to hear more, I left the kit- 
chen. In passing the door of that sanctum some time 
after, I caught the words, — 

" She'll happen do better for him nor ony o' t' grand 
ladies." And again, " If she ben't one o' th' hand- 
somest, she's noan faal and varry good-natured ; and i' 
his een she's fair beautiful, onybody may see that." 

I wrote to Moor House and to Cambridge imme- 
diately, to say what I had done : fully explaining also 
why I had thus acted. Diana and Mary approved the 
step unreservedly. Diana announced that she would 
just give me time to get over the honey-moon, and then 
she would come and see me. 

" She had better not wait till then, Jane," said Mr 
Rochester, when I read her letter to him ; if she does, 
she will be too late, for our honey-moon will shine our 
life-long : its beams will only fade over your grave or 
mine." 

How St John received the news, I don't know ; he 
never answered the letter in which I communicated it : 
yet six months after he wrote to me ; without, how- 
ever, mentioning Mr Rochester's name, or alluding to 
my marriage. His letter was then calm ; and, though 
very serious, kind. He has maintained a regular, though 
not frequent correspondence ever since : he hopes I am 
happy, and trusts I am not of those who live without 
God in the world, and only mind earthly things. 

You have not quite forgotten little Adele, have you, 
reader ? I had not ; I soon asked and obtained leave 
of Mr Rochester, to go and see her at the school where 
he had placed her. Her frantic joy at beholding me 
again moved me much. She looked pale and thin : she 
said she was not happy. I found the rules of the estab- 
lishment were too strict, its course of study too severe, 



JANE EYRE. 285 

for a child of her age : I took her home with me. I 
meant to become her governess once more ; but I soon 
found this impracticable ; my time and cares were now 
required by another — my husband needed them all. So 
I sought out a school conducted on a more indulgent 
system ; and near enough to permit of my visiting her 
often, and bringing her home sometimes. I took care 
she should never want for anything that could contri- 
bute to her comfort: she soon settled in her new abode, 
became very happy there, and made fair progress in her 
studies. As she grew up, a sound English education 
corrected in a great measure her French defects ; and 
when she left school, I found in her a pleasing and 
obliging companion : docile, good-tempered, and well- 
principled. By her grateful attention to me and mine, 
she has long since well repaid any little kindness I ever 
had it in my power to offer her. 

My tale draws to its close : one word respecting my 
experience of married life, and one brief glance at the 
fortunes of those whose names have most frequently re- 
curred in this narrative, and I have done. 

I have now been married ten years. I know what 
it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on 
earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond 
what language can express ; because I am my husband's 
life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer 
to her mate tlian I am : ever more absolutely bone of 
his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness 
of my Edward's society : he knows none of mine, any 
more than we each do of the pulsation of tlie heart that 
beats in our separate bosoms ; consequently, we are ever 
together. To be together is for us to be at once as free 
as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, 
all day long : to talk to each other is but a more animated 
and an audible thinking. All my confidence is 
bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me ; 



286 JANE EYRE. 

we are precisely suited in character — perfect concord is 
the result. 

Mr. Rochester continued blind the first two years of 
our union : perhaps it was that circumstance that drew 
us so very near — that knit us so very close ! for I was 
then his vision, as I am still his right hand. Literally, 
I was (what he often called me) the apple of his eye. 
He saw nature — he saw books through me ; and never 
did I weary of gazing for his behalf, and of putting into 
words the effect of field, tree, town, river, cloud, sunbeam 
— of the landscape before us ; of the weather round us 
— and impressing by sound on his ear what light could 
no longer stamp on his eye. Never did I weary of 
reading to him ; never did I weary of conducting him 
where he wished to go : of doing for him what he 
wished to be done. And there was a pleasure in my 
services, most full, most exquisite, even though sad — 
because he claimed these services without painful shame 
or damping humiliation. He loved me so truly, that 
he knew no reluctance in profiting by my attendance 
he felt that I loved him so fondly, that to yield that 
attendance was to indulge my sweetest wishes. 

One morning at the end of the two years, as I was 
writing a letter to his dictation, he came and bent over 
me, and said — 

"Jane, have you a glittering ornament round your 
neck ? " 

I had a gold watch-chain : I answered " Yes." 

" And have you a pale blue dress on ? " 

I had. He informed me then, that for some time 
he had fancied the obscurity clouding one eye was 
becoming less dense ; and that now he was sure of it. 

He and I went up to London. He had the advice 
of an eminent oculist ; and he eventually recovered the 
bight of that one eye. He cannot now see very 
distinctly : he cannot read or write much ; but he can 
find his way without being led by the hand : the sky is 



JANE EYRE. 287 

no longer a blank to him — the earth no longer a void. 
When his first-born was put into his arms, he could see 
that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once 
were — large, brilliant, and black. On that occasion, he 
again, with a full heart, acknowledged that God had 
tempered judgment with mercy. 

My Edward and I, then, are happy : and the more 
so, because those we most love aie happy likewise. 
Diana and Mary Rivers are both married : alternately, 
once every year, they come to see us, and we go to see 
them. Diana's husband is a captain in the navy ; a 
gallant officer, and a good man. Mary's is a clergyman : 
a college friend of her brother's ; and, from his attain- 
ments and principles, worthy of the connection. Both 
Captain Fitzjames and Mr Wharton love their wives, 
and are loved by them. 

As to St John Rivers, he left England : he went to 
India. He entered on the path he had marked for 
himself; he pursues it still. A. more resolute, indefa- 
tigable pioneer never wrought amidst rocks and dangers. 
Firm, faithful, and devoted ; full of energy, and zeal, 
and truth, he labours for his race : he clears their pain- 
ful wav to improvement : he hews down like a giant 
the prejudices of creed and caste that encumber it. He 
may be stern ; he may be exacting : he may be ambi- 
tious yet ; but his is the sternness of the warrior Great- 
heart, who guards his pilgrim convoy from the onslaught 
of Apollyon. His is the exaction of the apostle, who 
speaks but for Christ, when he says—" Whosoever will 
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his 
cross and follow me." His is the ambition of the high 
master-spirit, which aims to fill a place in the first rank 
of those who are redeemed from the earth — who stand 
without fault before the throne of God ; who share the 
last mighty victories of the Lamb ; who are called, and 
chosen, and faithful. 



288 JANE EYRE. 

St John is unmai lied : he never will marry now. 
Himself has hitherto sufficed to the toil ; and the toil 
draws near its close : his glorious sun hastens to its 
setting. The last letter I received from him drew from 
my eyes human tears, and yet filled my heart with 
Divine joy : he anticipated his sure reward, his in- 
corruptible crown. I know that a stranger's hand will 
write to me next, to say that the good and faithful 
servant has been called at length into the joy of his 
Lord. And why weep for this ? No fear of death 
will darken St John's last hour : his mind will be un- 
clouded ; his heart will be undaunted ; his hope will 
be sure ; his faith steadfast. His own words are 
a pledge of this : — 

" My Master," he says, " has forewarned me. 
Daily he announces more distinctly, — ' Surely I come 
quickly ! ' and hourly I more eagerly respond, — 
Amen ; even so come. Lord Jesus ! ' " 



Finis. 



TURNBULL AND SPEARS PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 



University of California 

SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 

305 De Neve Drive - Parking Lot 17 • Box 951388 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1388 

Return this material to the library from which it was borrowed. 



Oa 062008 



^%ASOi LIB 






=3 





UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 



A A 001 426 104 4 




Mocca^xcviii 



Un